I begin and end almost every day with a prayer of gratitude, one given me by my father in the fall of 1988, written in his longhand on a piece of yellow legal paper. It was my first year living away from my home state of Oregon, away from my family. I was lonely and homesick, and struggling through my first year as a Montessori teacher.
In response to my woeful cries of "I want to come home," my wise father counseled me to spend more time in gratitude, and offered to send me the daily prayer with which he began and ended his days. That was the first and only letter I ever received from my father, a man of few words, and formed the foundation of my daily spiritual practice.
I carried that yellow piece of paper around in my wallet for almost thirty years, until it nearly fell apart, and still carry a copy of the original. Over the years, Dad's words merged with mine as my spiritual practice evolved.
In recent months, as the pandemic rages on and more and more people face hardships of health and well-being, I often find myself in prayer throughout day. And several times a week I visit an old, towering Western Red Cedar tree in Tryon Creek Forest, where I lean in close with my prayer requests for healing and gratitude.
This morning, snuggled up against that old familiar tree friend, having finished prayers in which some of you were included, I surveyed my view of the forest. And I allowed my heart to open to the vast beauty in which I am held; and through which we are connected.
I offer this glimpse of my morning view as I give thanks, with love, for you.