I have been reading My Song, and Harry Belafonte’s story about finally being able to buy his mother a car, and a house with elegant furnishings, on the water. Finally, he was making inroads into segregation. He thought he could make her happy, at last, after the hard life she had lived, after all the disappointments she encountered and endured throughout her life. But no, she was unable to be happy, incapable of joy.
I know we are all capable of happiness. I know it means opening ourselves to prosperity in its broadest sense. It means allowing what life sets before us to enter our hearts and resonate with gratitude and beauty, and radiate outwards again in joy.
How much are we capable of receiving?
I am reminded of Mary Oliver and her Wild Geese.
“Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.”
I know this: gratitude is a key to joy. And, as I remember that I know this, I realize my gratitude, of late, has been cursory and stale, a chant of words, of symbols, without emotion.
And yet, today, my friend is able to call me, able to tell me that the doctors say there’s a 40% chance of his survival. I am grateful for his life, for the spirit that inhabits it, and for the laughter we could share, in spite of, in the face of such news.
I am grateful for a wise poet; for wild geese flying in lopsided Vs; for a book with a story about happiness and fear; for my son’s embrace, all elbows and knees, but soft and warm, and nourishing. I am thankful for all the reminders of my place in the family of things.