As I woke this morning I could hear the sound of a train in a distance; softly below this drone I heard my wife's gentle breathing. Her breath especially poignant today since yesterday my favorite resident at work and then later a dear friend both drew their final breaths. For this moment her journey remains tied to mine on this earth, to dream another dream, to serve another day.
Later in the day amidst the clatter of my staff at work, I paused. Grateful for the quality of the work they perform and the grace in which they undertake their duties. I glimpse the lives we touch and brighten during difficult transitional times. Their voices gentle and kind, their hearts full of service.
I listen to the sound of delight from a man grateful that his request was remembered. The whisper of hope as encouragement is offered to a suffering woman. Even the habitual "thank you's" of our professional day give voice to the value our cultures place on expressing gratitude. Suddenly I am grateful that I can still hear, still give voice to my thoughts and feelings, still pause and take note.
During my lunch the tinkle of my fork against my plate draws attention to the sounds of our kitchen at rest. Enjoying the rare relative quiet as only the low hum of the various compressors fans rise & fall as the kitchen breaths. grateful for the relief from the usual sonic assault that accompanies my day. I hear my teeth at work with chewing a broccoli cheese casserole, the taste of thyme slowing me to enjoy this precious moment.
"California Dreaming" wafts into my listening field and associative memory transports me to 1969 and an auto accident in my brother's black GTO. Why do I remember that this was playing on his car radio when we were struck? Another memory jolt to "Leaving on a Jet Plane" playing in my fathers car in 1981 as my mother bursts into tears. They were taking me to the airport as I was moving to Colorado. Smiling with gratitude that my brain still makes these connections.
Leaving work as I hear my footfalls on the stairwell, gratitude stirs that I still walk. Around me wheelchairs and walkers focus my attention to this activity frequently taken for granted. Soon I hear the grateful cheers of neighborhood children saying "daddy's home," their joy being echoed by a yelping dog. The sizzle of dinner on the stove joins the chorus of my wife welcoming me home. Such simple acts amplified to sacred depths when I pay attention.
I end my day with the sounds of joy. A young woman expressing gratitude for living fully against the odds. Grateful friends surrounding and expressing their support, this very act supporting their path. I am grateful that these same people are my friends.
I suspect I missed other sounds of gratitude on this day. But when I did listen, I came into the present moment. In doing this I became aware of my body, my thinking, my feelings, & memories; I became alive. For Life is lived in the present moment.
Will I be grateful if I wake tomorrow? Will I notice another's breath? Will I be listening?