I am grateful for the Kiddush conversation of last Shabbat with a college student who had visited my website. Bright, lovely and quite Jewishly committed, a teacher in our religious school, she commented:" It was interesting to read how you see the world from that perspective (of gratefulness.)"
I responded appreciatively adding, " I guess that it is like wearing glasses of a certain kind that helps us see what is around us more clearly and sharply."
Walking home a short time later, I ruminated on this eye glass metaphor for the perspective of gratefulness. Was it, I asked, a question of seeing the world with rose colored glasses, and as such, getting a distorted view of life? Or in fact, was gratefulness a lens that conferred greater spiritual and psychological clarity to our vision of things?
I believe that for those of us who are far-sighted, for whom the immediate and nearby is fuzzy and distorted, that is, the multitude of gifts that daily surround us are not acknowledged or appreciated, with the sharpened vision of gratefulness, the soul gains a fuller and keener awareness of that which is close-by and all its potential richness and blessing.
If we are near-sighted, cannot the focus of gratefulness help dissipate the fog of fear that so often hovers opaquely over our image of the future,and our ability to see that which is yet far away , beyond our grasp? Looking through a glass darkly is viewing life from the perspective of determinism, even despair. Tomorrow is, at best, a time already destined, at worst, a time of terror. Our sight of the faraway is blurred not only by distance but by the narrowness of our heart's ability to see life lovingly and gratefully.
Does gratefulness blind me to the reality of life's evils, absurdities, cruelty and unfairness? Does the lens of grateful thankfulness lend an aura of fantasy and unreality to the world around us?
Sadly we seem to spot the sordid and the sorrowful without any glasses of any kind. Our vision of the negative in life is usually better than twenty-twenty. We need a different sort of clarity, one that can come into view when we place the eye glasses of gratefulness over our hearts and souls.
Cultivation of gratefulness, through conscious activity of prayer and meditation, can help us polish our sight of the sacred, our vision of the beneficent and the good in life. "Taste and see, how good is the Lord." The Psalmist understood centuries ago the nature of looking at everything from the angle of gratefulness and thereby recognizing the goodness of all things.
Perhaps its time to consider a change of prescription for new glasses of gratefulness?