She stood by the sink, small and wrinkled, her stark white hair hanging in a ponytail down her back. Carefully examining every bean, Paulina prided herself on making the quintessential pico de gallo. It was her daily task, and one that crowded the majority of her minutes.
I perched on a chair while the heavy rain pounded the tin roof like an army storming the ground to battle. She told of growing up poor in the mountains of the rainforest, with snakes and tarantulas slithering through her bedroom. Memories unfolded of hours of slave labor in the sugar cane factory and coffee fields. After many long days of sharing, she recounted the most painful tale of all: her love story. Mixed social classes, angry in-laws, a dead husband, children torn from her arms, then an endless search to get them back. “Don’t cry for me,” she had said valiantly, “God saw me.”
Chickens ran under my feet and pecked at the beans she tossed onto the ground. My host sister sat in the corner, sewing a baseball that she would sell to the company for 25 cents. It would take her 4 hours of labor to complete. My parents had just sent a letter telling of the baseball strike in the U.S. The players weren’t making enough money.
Of all of the heart change that swirled through my soul that year living in the rural mountains of Costa Rica, one trait rose up and bloomed in the brilliant, tropical sun more than all of the others: GRATITUDE. Not having the luxuries to which I was accustomed created a thankfulness for the smallest things: a warm (not even hot) shower, pasteurized milk, clean water, a machine that washes your clothes. So much had been taken for granted.
Like a baby bird whose eyes take in light for the first time, so began my awakening to the wonder around me.
Deep transformation transpires when we train our minds toward blessings. Eyes of gratitude reject entitlement, bitterness, and rage. They refuse to succumb to the base nature of those pursuits, and instead embrace contentment and enduring joy.
What is your thankfulness temperature? What would others say of you?
The only way to build a muscle is to exercise it. That is just what we’re about to do. The Gratitude Dare focuses on the daily discipline of giving thanks.
Like Paulina, may we learn the joy of simple tasks, and look through our lives with threads of hope.
Join me by taking the Gratitude Dare today!