I had been telling a friend the story of my venture in pioneering and when she had heard me thru she asked, "Can you tell me what has been your leading thought or feeling thru this whole experience?"
I answered quickly in one word, for my unique experience had left me with a clear-cut impression:
"For what?" pursued my friend.
"Everything! For the privilege of entering upon so difficult an undertaking; for strength to carry it thru; for the sense of being protected by a Higher Power when, for reasons of solitariness and remoteness from neighbors, I was unable to protect myself; for the whole wonderful experience and what it has taught me of self-reliance, courage, patience."
She looked at me earnestly and then said, "That very quality of gratitude on your part made it possible for you to have those things for which to be grateful."
When I was a little girl I fell into the habit of saying briefly in response to courtesies of friends and playmates, "Thanks!" A saving reprimand came from an elderly woman who said to me, "If a thing is worth receiving at your hands it is worth three words from you. Cannot you take time to say, 'I thank you'?"
Perhaps if I had not been given the first simple lesson to ponder and practice, I might not have been ready for the greater suggestion offered later, to wit, that a grateful spirit invites and even brings to pass further causes for gratitude!
When a farmer's wife hurries thru the morning's work, bathes and dresses two babies, hitches up the team and drives several miles on a hot day, opening three gates en route, that I, her neighbor, may not be lonely, my answering gratitude is in proportion to my understanding of what she has done and my own unselfish desire not to be a burden to her.
The law of continuance of influence sees to it that the good begun by my visitor, who generously gave of her time and strength for me, continues to spread, to act and react until the farther waves of influence have passed beyond our ken [one's range of knowledge or sight.]
Shall we look at the reverse of the shield? Let us suppose these conditions to exist: I was lonely indeed and in my loneliness turned my thoughts inward in self-pity. I looked out toward my neighbor's distant home with the feeling that "Surely she might come to see me! It is a shame I am left alone this way! It is little enough for any one to do. She has horses, she can hitch up. She might!
Either I do not know or do not care that this neighbor has limited strength, more work than she can well do and that it is no small undertaking to manage two babies and two horses and three heavy gates.
|The view from our local post office and bank|
This is the Thanksgiving season of the year. It follows upon the harvest time. Not so few and far between as we wish are those homes that, in the golden autumn lull between summer's work and winter's cold, are looking upon a harvest of disappointment instead of the prayed-for fullness. Can they be grateful? Should they be grateful? What will genuine gratitude in the face of bitter disappointment do for them?
I can best answer by telling you an incident that came to my notice while living on my homestead...