Occasionally, it’s possible to catch a glimpse of gratitude bubbling up on the periphery of life’s most painful experiences. This gratitude is bashful, hovering just to the side of things, small and round, like a spot of light, refracted. This gratitude invites a turning in those who want to truly embrace it. 

This is not gratitude for the loss itself, but for the path it opened, for the spacious place in which you find yourself now – days or weeks or months later. It is a sliver of light, a glimmer in deep darkness. Such gratitude is best captured by peripheral vision – look too closely at it, slide it under the microscope of quantity, quality or necessary identification, and it dissolves like fog in the morning sun. But, abide with it, welcome it in passing; extend your hand, your heart, to it, as one might do with a skittish cat and maybe, perhaps, one day, when you least expect it, it will walk right over and curl up to sleep in your lap. 

This post is a reflection on Mark Nepo’s poem, “Fighting the Instrument.” Visit Spirituality and Health to read the poem and the poet’s own reflections on it. 

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