It’s hard to appreciate small things when everything or almost everything is going well. Think of good days/weeks/years as full of light, not much shadow. When there’s so much light, who can notice a tiny flame? But anyone who has struggled with loss, severe illness, depression knows what darkness looks and feels like. It doesn’t just feel like the absence of light. It almost feels like losing all memory of light, stumbling, certain we’ll never find our way out.
Sometimes it feels impossible, but if we try really hard, and practice mindfulness consistently, we can usually find at least one good thing- one tiny flame- one shred of gratitude that makes all the difference. In the dark, even a small candle can illuminate a whole lot. So in that sense, perhaps we can be grateful for darkness itself because it teaches us to be grateful for things we never realized we had and things we take for granted. True loving relationships. Food! Sunshine. Music. The sound of rain. A good joke. Sleeping in. We don’t cultivate gratitude in spite of hardship. I believe we need hardship to know what gratitude even means.
It’s always a huge relief to return to the light, but when we do may we take empathy, gratitude, and compassion for those who are suffering with us.