I’ve had gratitude on my mind all week. Partly it’s because of Thanksgiving, and the rest is because it’s just been on my mind. The holiday season, beginning with Thanksgiving, has traditionally been a hard time for me. It seems like there’s so much pressure to respond to the external requirements of the season, and not enough time to just be with the deeper qualities of this part of the year. A friend and I have had conversations about gratitude lately and she shared with me some research about gratitude. As it turns out, people who regularly practice gratitude are happier people. One blog I read about it described gratitude as a “stress buffer” and an “emotional reset button.” Gratitude has certainly gotten me through one of the toughest years of my life.
On Saturday evening I had a loving reminder about gratitude. It was dark and I was dropping my oldest granddaughter off at her house after a movie. I was just preparing to leave when Emily, my 12 year old granddaughter, climbed out of their car and said, “Hey, Mamie, this is for you. I found it on our hike today.” Since it was night time, I couldn’t see right away what she placed in my hand. It was heavy and rough. As I moved toward the light, I saw that it was a beautiful heart shaped rock. I loved that she found it and thought to give it to me. For many years, I’ve looked for hearts made of stone when I’ve traveled or hiked in different places. I often give them to friends or family as a souvenir from the place I’ve been and as a reminder that I love them. I am grateful that Emily is now carrying on this tradition.
When I photographed the heart rock for this blog, I chose to set it on another rock in our back yard. Although I didn’t see it before, I noticed in the photo that there is another small heart, formed by a missing piece of the larger rock. It made me think of the phrase “a heart of stone,” which usually means a cold, hardened heart. I thought of Emily and the rock she lovingly slipped into my hand last night. When there is love involved, even a heart of stone can be a source of gratitude. And sometimes another heart might appear, just to reinforce the point. It was a sweet way to enter into this holiday season, with a little extra gratitude stuffed in my pocket.