I was grateful for so many things.
I was grateful for a bed at night, I was grateful for a good meal, I was grateful when my feet didn’t hurt, when my knee wasn’t sore, when it didn’t rain.
I was grateful for friendship, for acts of kindness, for moments of beauty and moments of joy.
I came back from the Camino and I noticed something strange. I found myself saying “thank you” a lot.
I noticed this in emails.
Instead of signing off: Kind regards, or Best wishes, I was signing off: Many thanks, or simply Thank you.
This was more than just a superficial change of an email protocol, I was doing this unconsciously because I did genuinely feel appreciative.
I felt grateful.
Gratitude is a state of grace that is often deemed unacceptable in our current world. Like humility, it is often seen as a form of weakness, as a point of vulnerability, as being uncompetitive. It’s often seen as a state of supplication, and hence as a personal failing.
Gratitude and humility are anything but forms of weakness or supplication.
In their highest and most noble forms they speak of wisdom, of grace, of knowing.
During my recent trip to America, I had a conversation with my workmate Pieter de Vries. He told me he often got very annoyed when he sent photos to people via email and they didn’t respond with a simple thank you. He said it often took him quite a long time to prepare the shots, and yet he got back no acknowledgment of the effort and care he’d taken to send them to someone.
I too see this all the time.
I recently prepared a To Do list for a friend who is about to go overseas. It took me quite a while to prepare this list. Nothing back. No thank you. That’s okay. To do an act of kindness is reward enough. There actually doesn’t need to be a response to validate that kindness. In seeking one, you undercut your generosity of spirit.
But sometimes it’s nice when someone says thank you.
The Camino taught me gratitude.
It taught me not to expect things.
It stripped away any sense of entitlement.
For that, I’m grateful.