This photo was taken at Oscar Wilde's grave at the Cimetière Pere Lachaise in Paris. We visited the cemetery on November 1, All Saint's Day. In France, this is the day when people go to the graves of loved ones to pay tribute and to pay respects. The cemetery was strewn with flowers. Oscar Wilde's grave is encased in a wall of glass to protect it, and an admirer had thrown a letter and a bouquet of flowers over the glass wall. The letter is written in English, in the second person point-of-view, by what appears to be a woman's hand. I was touched by this gesture. Flowers and hand-written letters certainly appeal to the romantic in me. But this was a letter of gratitude, written to someone not known in person, yet who had enough of an impact on her that she chose to write to him.
Emily Dickinson said that, "Hope is the thing with wings that perches in the soul-- and sings the tunes without words and never stops at all..." While hope may give us the wings that we need, gratitude provides us with roots. Once we invite gratitude to rest awhile, we connect with what is. We are centered, grounded, stable, providing a strong base for our hopes to take flight. Our worries fade away; we are present. We feel lighter, freer, and filled with possibility. Hope and gratitude are will get us through.
When I am feeling sad, anxious, irritated, down.... gratitude is the answer. I say out loud the things, people, experiences for which I am grateful. Sometimes I even state these things in both French and in English for added emphasis. Yes, it's silly, I know, but I do it anyway. There is something inherently soothing in connecting with gratitude. It quiets the worried mind. It shines light into the dark, scary places and shows us the path away from them. It keeps us from drowning in that well of sadness, giving us air so that we rise to the top.
And so, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, 4000 miles from the US, I am expressing my gratitude. I am grateful for my friends and family, both close and far away; I am thankful for the love that I give and receive; I am thankful for the magical, golden light in this part of France. I am grateful for the love that brought me here and for the past three months that I have been fortunate enough to spend here. I am grateful for poetry and art and music and for the purr of a happy cat on my lap. I am grateful for laughter. I am grateful for mystery and magic and intimacy. I am thankful for those people who take time to read what I have written, to look at the photos I have taken, and for those who take the time to comment.
Until next time....