Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Balance for Our Existence

To live a life of gratitude

is to open our eyes to the countless ways

in which we are supported by the world around us.

Such a life provides less space for our suffering

because our attention is more balanced.

We are more often occupied

with noticing what we are given,

thanking those who have helped us,

and repaying the world in some concrete way

for what we are receiving.

-Gregg Krech-

This past weekend was Thanksgiving, traditionally a time of reflection. For me; however, it was more about remaining in a state of gratitude. This state of mind began from a poetry lesson I shared with my students during writing workshop before the holiday. They were to create a poem of thankfulness from a mentor text. Following a discussion regarding the way the poem was structured, we soon began to discuss the author’s word choice. We were most impressed with the author’s ability to describe what she was thankful for without actually printing it in black and white. This became the part of the poem we wanted to emulate in our own writing.

At that point we stopped, opened our writer’s notebook and for four minutes brainstormed what we were thankful for. I asked my fifth graders to think outside the box on this one - to think beyond what the average 10-year old might write and come up with things they were thankful for from the heart. After four minutes of brainstorming, we met on the class carpet to share---and oh my goodness, it took every thing within me to hold back the tears. Let me share with you a few of the lines from these awesome fifth graders:

For the horn that lets me express my inner soul,

I am thankful. (OK she is gifted)

For the beautiful music my saxophone makes without words,

I am thankful.

For the pleasure of being able to be taught by a woman who has been through so much,

I am thankful. (yep-this one brought a tear)

For the tiniest surprises in life which brighten my day,

I am thankful.

For the courage to stand up for what I believe,

I am thankful.

For the pleasure of expressing my thoughts and feelings through writing,

I am thankful.

For the ability to know bad times will get better,

I am thankful.

This exercise, shared with my class, created in me a most grateful heart. I could have written these lines, but they came from those special children I get to share life with each day. I am an extremely blessed woman. I never want to take that for granted or cease to have a grateful heart, no matter my circumstances. Fortunately being thankful has become a constant state instead of one visited every now and then. Gratitude has created, not only a balance for my existence, but “less space for suffering” as well.

This I know for sure.


Anonymous said...

I think this will be one of my favorites. It's amazing the insight of young kids when they are pushed to think outside of what is normally expected of them. Through this story I see an amazing woman, who has pressed on through adversity and continued to provide inspiration and guidance to these young folks. I don't want to reduce the value of what they have done for you in your life, I'm sure they have been a source of inspiration and healing for you, but it would also be a shame to not also recognize your contribution in their lives.

You are an amazing person Marsha Cuttill. This I know for sure!

Dad said...


Pentha said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Pentha said...

I find myself being grateful for gratitude. I know that sounds strange, but gratitude helps me remember my relationship with God. Everything I have is pure gift... my life, my intellect, my health, my children, my financial security, my marriage to Nick ... EVERYTHING is gift. Knowing that helps me keep perspective.

I don't mean in the sense of "the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away." That is fatalistic and denies my RELATIONSHIP with God.

The Lord is abundantly generous, and when I respond to that generosity with gratitude, my faith becomes stronger, my heart more gracious, my life more peaceful.

When I FORGET gratitude, I suffer (and so does everyone around me). I get angry and bitter. Nothing is good enough, nothing is sufficient, nothing brings happiness.

I know I've rambled, but I hope this makes sense.

mfisteach said...

Oh Pentha,
What beautiful words!! I believe gratitude was what was missing in my healing process and yeah--people around me suffered. I love this quote from what you wrote:

"The Lord is abundantly generous, and when I respond to that generosity with gratitude, my faith becomes stronger, my heart more gracious, my life more peaceful."

Life has become more peaceful--less anxious. This journey is an amazing one--thank you my friend.

mfisteach said...

I am glad you enjoyed the post. I have always said that I am so fortunate to spend my day with 5th graders. Don used to say that he never envied my summers off, but the fact that I couldn't wait to get to work every day. It is a true blessing. If, in fact, I am in anyway amazing it it through the lens of a God who cares so very much for me.

mfisteach said...