A friend visited a church convention in Kenya. While in line at the restroom she commented on the exquisite colors of another woman’s block printed tunic. Resolutely the lady stripped to her t- shirt and held out the tunic for my friend to have.” I’d be happy to give it to you!”, she smiled. My friend refused, how could she take the very clothes away from another person! The smile faded on the face of the Kenyan woman, “why is it that you Americans always want to give and are not able to receive?” she said.
In many ways she could be right. To be thankful is a key to a happy life. It is also another way of knowing what is important in your life, and what just adds to the tangles. Unfortunately we sometimes mix up the rituals of gift giving, the understanding of the strings attached and the supposed obligations, and adds thankfulness as another chore.
To be grateful is an altogether different sentiment.”Grateful” is etymologically derived from grace, gratis. To be truly grateful is to live in the knowledge that life itself and the magic of being alive is given free of charge, as a grace, totally gratis. To me that is a mindset and a way of life.It is not the Polyanna game of looking for the bright side of life. It is not a reciprocal payback game. To be grateful is to be free to give and free to receive, untangled from some obligations, happy to fulfill others. Gratis, undeserved,in grace.
In November I take part in the NaBloPoMo, in the BlogHer network. I post every day on “The Untangling Tens” what women do when life gets tangled. These are the ten tools that worked for those I have asked, what are yours?
All pictures in this blog are taken by me, Solveig Mjolsnes.