Grateful for my blanket of snow.

[suggested meditation for this topic]

Gratitude -- the power of thank you.  Several days ago, I found myself smiling and daydreaming about a myriad of warm-weather activities.  It was 70 degrees, and I was putting away my winter coat. Then in a flash, it was gone. I awoke to 17- degrees and a blanket of snow. My mood deflated. I was amazed to see just how quickly my thoughts and mood shifted by simply peering out the window.  I had attached my joy and well-being to something external.  What a gentle reminder to accept life as it is.
As I accepted my new blanket of snow, my desires disappeared.  I started feeling very joyful, and for no reason at all! The discontent and tensions disappeared. I became aware that when joy has a reason, it is not going to last long; when joy is without any reason, it is going to be there forever. 

That reminded of a story about a very famous Zen woman named Rengetsu.  While she was traveling on pilgrimage, she came to a village at sunset.  As was the custom, Rengetsu begged for lodging for the night.  This was a traditional Buddhist town, and the villagers did not want a radical revolutionary in their midst.  So, they slammed their doors and sent her out into the cold night.

The old woman was without lodging and hungry.  She had to make do for the night and seek shelter under a cheery tree in a nearby field. It was terribly cold, and she did not sleep well.  It was dangerous, too, with so many wild animals in that territory.  At midnight, due to the intense cold, she awoke.  Rengetsu looked up into the night sky and saw the fully-opened cherry blossoms laughing to the misty moon.  Overcome with the beauty, she got up and bowed in the direction of the villagers repeatedly thanking them for their great act of kindness.

Amazingly, Rengetsu was grateful to those that had refused her lodging.  Without their doing so, she would have been sleeping under an ordinary roof, and then would have missed the blessing of the cherry blossoms and their communion with the moon.  Rengetsu was not angry, she accepted life.  She even welcomed it and felt gratitude.

Looking out into the cold, I thought about Rengetsu’s journey and reminisced about my life.  I found moments of great pleasure and moments of deep pain.  Some memories I liked, and some I did not.  If given by God, I knew each had a reason. Winter and summer were both needed for growth. When that truth settled in my heart, each moment of life became of gratitude—the laughter, the tears, my blanket of snow, simply everything!

[suggested meditation for this topic]