One of my favorite activities that the Rites of Passage therapist gave the group is to write out a list of 25 things we are grateful for. We always start dinner by going around the circle and stating 3 things we are grateful for, but a list of 25 gratefuls (as we call them) pushes you past the surface level stuff. I was curious to see what our clients would come up with, and what I might reveal as well. So I nestled down between the roots of a tree next to a gurgling stream (I’m not even exaggerating) and let the gratitude flow.
My 25 Gratefuls
- The chance to do wilderness therapy. The health, stamina, maturity, experience, and the support of my wife, Amanda.
- The opportunity to impact lives. In youth groups, prisons, wilderness, even sales and customer service.
- Pets that bring us joy and get us out of ourselves.
- Elder trees who speak to me about how to grow a healthy soul.
- My son, Jacob. His laugh, his smile, his joy at seeing me. His desire to be with me.
- Amanda’s fortitude. she is the shore to my river, the bank of solid earth that constricts and guides my flow.
- My daughter, Grace, for her love of life and ability to draw out my best efforts (and reveal my weaknesses).
- The mountains. They are my longing and my inspiration. They call to me with mystery, adventure, and purpose.
- The rivers. They are the life-blood of the earth. They teach us the importance of purity, the power of cooperation and persistence, as well as the advantage of adaptability.
- Fire. Heat, utility, comfort, light, and lesson upon life lesson.
- My time in prison. I valued working with 3 Oaks Ministries, seeing the world through new eyes, and gaining a new sense of independence.
- The Clearwater Trekkers. For the sense of community they give me, for the challenge of leading hikes, and for the inspiration not to simply drift or wander.
- Moss. For a soft seat or bed, as fire-starter, and a scrub pad for pots and butts.
- My mom. For the way she raised me and the inspiration she continues to be.
- My dad. For the insights he offers and the opportunities he’s made possible.
- My brother, Tony, for his determination, positive attitude, and his willingness to get up and carry on.
- My teachers. Not only do they share knowledge, but the good ones taught me how to acquire it, and the best ones taught me how to use it.
- The blank page, because it calls out the hidden things in my heart.
- Traveling. Normally an item for my desire or passion list, today I am grateful for all the road trips, plane trips, and train rides. All the trails, all the miles, all the memories.
- Solitude. I appreciate the chances I get to be alone with my thoughts, especially in calm, beautiful places like the forest.
- Companionship. I am not sure of any greater joy or sense of wholeness than sharing the journey of life with someone, with an open, honest, and vulnerable heart. There is no laughter so sweet as one shared between the best of friends.
- Mystery. The unknown. The unexplored. The edge of the map. It’s what drives me, compels me, and beckons me onward. It’s where I reach the edge of myself and discover new horizons.
- My responsibilities. They guide my wanderings. They teach my hands what to do, and they fill my days with purpose.
- The wilderness. For her indifference, her beauty, and her danger. She tests me, challenges me, and welcomes me into her embrace. She teaches me how to live in patient abundance.
- Love. The soul of life. The creative force out of which all things come into being. The Divine. You and me. The how and why of life. Our hope. Our potential, and the path to achieving it. May gratitude be the door through which Love walks into my heart.
We all read our gratefuls to each other around the campfire later that week. It was one of those nights when you think, “This is why we do it.”
Have you ever done a practice like this? I encourage you to take some time to sit down and write out at least 25 things you are grateful for and don’t stop there if you get in the flow. Just let it roll! Feel free to share a few gratefuls in the comments below, if you’d like. It would be fun to be encouraged by what inspires you.