Gratitude from the heart


By Rosa Duvenhage

It is the month of October!

The acorn tree is green;

The eucalyptus along the roads are all newly planted;

And everywhere in the garden you smell lilac and rose,

Jasmine and kitten sauce, orange and apricot.

– C. Louis Leipoldt

This morning I understand why C. Louis Leipoldt wrote a poem about the month of October. The morning is clear and the sky is blue and cloudless. Somewhere a plant blooms and a heavenly fragrance hangs in the air.

As I unload my teacher’s bag from the car, my eyes scan the parking area for a willing pair of hands to help carry my load.

It’s still early and the school grounds are quiet and deserted. I look down the stairs and see a 2nd grade boy, with a white cup and two blue eyes, his mother greeting him through the window as she drives away.

He doesn’t seem in any hurry to enter the school grounds. He threw his bag over his shoulder and walked slowly closer. Just before he started to climb the stairs, a large brown stray dog, wagging tail came running onto the sidewalk. The dog trots sniff-sniff closer and welcomes the little hand extended to him.

The two look like old friends and the dog’s eyes actually close with delight as the boy rubs him. I am too far away to hear the conversation, but for a few minutes I have the privilege of watching the scene unfolding in front of me with the morning sun on my face and the sweet scent of blossoms in my nose.

Just as I wanted to turn around, I saw the boy slide the bag off his shoulder, take out his lunch box and feed the brown dog one of his lunch sandwiches…

Johannes de Villiers wrote a book called, Happiness. He tells that a nun in a monastery told him one day that one gets two kinds of joy, the joy of the stomach and the joy of the heart.

The joy of the stomach is what you experience when you have enough to eat, are healthy and are surrounded by people who love you.

However, the joy of the heart is not always pleasant or comfortable. It is to feel at home in your life and to know that your existence here on earth has meaning. To know joy of the heart, you must learn to allow the pain of the world as well as the joy in your heart.

There are four tips how you can notice and practice this joy of the heart.

Get quiet sometimes.

Be grateful, even in difficult times.

Live simply and learn to care for something more than just yourself.

The pain of the world is great, heavy and deep. It’s everywhere. One hears it on various platforms, sees it on street corners and at traffic lights, feels it on one’s own skin and is confronted with it in all aspects of life.

It sometimes feels like a dark cloud that moves in front of the sun on a cold day and casts a giant shadow over the little joy in your heart.

The antidote to this burden of hardship is gratitude of the heart. Your eyes must look for the beautiful and your heart must choose to make a big fuss about the little things that go right.

One can read a hundred books on gratitude and attend a thousand seminars on positive thinking, but nothing touches one’s heart like love in action.

The next morning when the boy’s mother dropped him off, he had a bag in his hand with dog food, just in case his friend showed up again.

This little boy was introduced to gratitude of the heart. The feeling when you give something to someone who can do nothing for you in return. The feeling that you are needed, that your life has meaning and that you make a difference.

May we be reminded somewhere every day that there is more to life than just the gratitude of the stomach.

May we stop often, be grateful for October’s blue skies and kitten saucers and the beautiful stories that unfold around us.

May we make a big fuss about the little things in life that go right and may we learn to love like children again.