Giving thanks for ordinary moments

"Gratitude rock" In our garden

Giving thanks for ordinary moments

I woke up today. You woke up today. How many of my early morning moments are also part of your morning?

I wake up
Open my eyes
Gently stretch and stand up
Say “Good Morning, Sunshine” to my wife
Put on clothes and slippers
Use the toilet
Walk down hallway
Adjust thermostat to 68° F
Turn on kitchen light
Fill teapot with fresh water
Boil water for tea
Reach into cabinet for a mug
Open tea drawer and choose a tea 
Hear teapot whistle as water boils
Steep tea for 5 minutes
Begin to sip warm, soothing tea…

I am moved by spiritual teachers (in many forms) who remind us that each day is precious, and that ordinary moments of our daily lives are no less precious than exciting ones.

For example, the last time I saw Thornton Wilder’s play Our Town, I left the theater with tears of sadness and joy. In the play, lead character Emily dies in childbirth and learns a life lesson from her fellow small-town citizens in the graveyard. She is offered the gift to re-experience a morning in her childhood. Looking at her young self from the grave, Emily is suddenly overwhelmed and deeply moved by the commonplace experiences of “clocks ticking,” “new-ironed dresses and hot baths,” and finally, simply, by the gift of “sleeping and waking up.”

“Oh earth,” Emily says, “you’re too wonderful for anybody to realize you. Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it? — every, every minute?”

Let’s take this insight from Emily – “Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it? — every, every minute?” – and apply it to the first few minutes of our ordinary mornings.

#1. I wake up. (What a gift to be able to wake up, to be alive for one more day.)

#2. Open my eyes. (I normally take sight for granted; yet the world appears before me as I open my eyes.)

#3. Gently stretch and stand up. (Arms, legs, muscles and bones are working one more day.)

#4. Say “Good Morning, Sunshine” to my wife. (These three words re-open each morning a shared world of gratitude between us.)

#5. Put on clothes and slippers. (Being able to put on warm, comfortable clothes means a lot on a chilly morning.)

#6. Use the toilet. (My “inner” plumbing works again today. Also my “indoor” plumbing. I have lived where the toilet is an outhouse, so I try not to take indoor plumbing for granted.)

#7. Walk down hallway. (Being able to walk and having a home with a hallway to walk down are both simple yet profound.)

#8. Turn thermostat to 68° F. (Not only a home, but also a comfortable, heated home.)  

#9. Turn on kitchen light. (Electricity flows into our home and causes light to burst forth with the simple flick of a switch. Taken for granted? Probably. Try to see it anew, even for a moment.)

#10. Fill teapot with fresh water. (Water, along with air, is the foundation of all life on earth. I have water…clean flowing water…to sustain me.)

#11. Boil water for tea. (Yes, there is still more. Half awake, not even thinking about it, I turn a knob and heat jumps to life to boil the teapot water.)

#12. Reach into cabinet for a mug. (I choose the gift-from-my-son mug because it fills my heart with subtle warmth, with an undercurrent of deep thanks that I have a son.)

#13. Open tea drawer and choose chai tea. (For you it might be your special coffee – and another simple moment to elicit gratitude.)

#14. Hear teapot whistle as water boils. (From the barely audible sound of a sigh to thunder booming overhead, from car horns to calming music, life is full of sound, usually taken for granted. This morning, I am suddenly aware of the gift of hearing.)

#15. Steep tea for five minutes. (Breathe, five minutes of life)

#16. Sip warm, soothing tea…

"Gratitude rock" and azalea flowers.
What are you grateful for today? (photo by Peter Finkle)

As I sip my tea, I think about the sixteen completely ordinary, everyday morning moments I normally perform on automatic pilot.

Today, as I sip my tea, I feel deep gratitude for each of the sixteen ordinary morning moments.

As I sip my tea, I realize that life’s richness and wonder is equally present while walking down the hallway or saying “Good Morning” to my wife as it is when climbing a mountain, attending a church service or going to a live music concert. Somehow, we sleepwalk through the day much too often and miss the richness of each moment.

  • Lori Conners
    Posted at 06:43h, 22 November Reply

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family Peter.
    I enjoyed your poem. I make it a point to be grateful for what I have and to live in the present. 🎁

  • Andrea Good
    Posted at 20:05h, 20 November Reply

    I spent one winter in a jungle. It was very cold and misty. I was thankful to sit with my friends next to a fire, and even more thankful when the spring came. Happy thanksgiving, Peter.

    • Peter Finkle
      Posted at 20:51h, 20 November Reply

      As you point out, the contrasts and difficulties in our lives often lead us toward being thankful for what we have.

  • Wendy Eppinger
    Posted at 18:08h, 20 November Reply

    Very Zen and very living in the moment….
    Lovely comment on being in the now
    Thank you, peter

    • Peter Finkle
      Posted at 19:02h, 20 November Reply

      Thank you for responding to my thoughts.
      I have been honing in on “living in the moment” for decades, and occasionally I even “get there.” Well, not “there” — but “here.” 🙂
      Be well,

  • Brandy Carson
    Posted at 15:49h, 20 November Reply

    ALWAYS excellent lo be reminded of gratitude
    NEVER a mistake to start one’s day with a list…such as yours
    Thanks,….from a grateful Elder Carson
    (And isn’t that Emily speech profound ?)

    • Peter Finkle
      Posted at 16:21h, 20 November Reply

      Thank you for your response. And yes, I find much wisdom in the play “Our Town.”

  • Colleen Patrick-Riley
    Posted at 15:22h, 20 November Reply

    Beautiful Peter. What a wonderful reminder of the everyday joys and blessings in life. I agree with you. Thank you for sharing.

    • Peter Finkle
      Posted at 16:22h, 20 November Reply

      Thank you, Colleen for your comments. I think we all need reminders, since we get absorbed in the busy-ness of our days.

  • Patricia Brett
    Posted at 15:10h, 20 November Reply

    Thank you for this, Peter! Well said and timely.

    • Peter Finkle
      Posted at 16:23h, 20 November Reply

      You are very welcome, Patricia!

  • Laura Lawrence
    Posted at 14:58h, 20 November Reply

    Beautiful! Thank you, Peter. May each of your, my, our days be so full.

    • Peter Finkle
      Posted at 16:24h, 20 November Reply

      I am glad the story/poem touched your heart. The vitality of life happening is right in front of us (and within us) when we are able to slow down enough to notice it.

  • Tammi Mendels
    Posted at 14:45h, 20 November Reply

    What a beautiful reminder of the little things in life many of us take for granted. I will stop and think about my morning rituals tomorrow and make notes to remind myself to be grateful for everything I have and not to worry about what I do not have.
    Thanks my friend I wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving week and hope you enjoy every moment as I plan to do for myself.
    Happiness always, Tammi

    • Peter Finkle
      Posted at 16:29h, 20 November Reply

      Yes, slowing down to notice the “riches” we already have can bring a lot of fulfillment (and can even be an eye-opener sometimes).

Post A Comment