My bedroom is on the sixth floor of an apartment block. The view from my bed is across the Cape Peninsular to the Hottentot’s Holland mountain range. The sun rises from behind these mountains.
It is my habit to pray in the early morning, and I sit in my bed to pray – looking out towards the promise of the rising sun. At this time of year, my usual prayer time is in during the dawn – before the sun rises.
Yesterday as I sat in my bed praying there was a lot of high level cloud around which always makes that time of day spectacular. A flood of oranges and pinks. But much closer to me, not quite blocking out the entire sky was a low level grey cloud. As I sat praying I could see the pinks and oranges just above the mountains, but the rest was blocked out by the nearby cloud. Over the course of my prayer period the grey cloud slowly moved across the sky revealing more and more of the spectacular colour beyond.
Apart from enjoying the beauty, it got me thinking. The grey cloud somehow came to represent the minutiae of daily reality. The small frustrations, the unresolved woundings, the stresses and strains of just getting things done. But when I am able to pause and notice the beauty of the bigger picture, and I am able to offer gratitude for that, sometimes the perspective shifts. The grey cloud doesn’t magically disappear – it is still there, but it is no longer the thing which dominates my line of sight.
The practice of gratitude helps shift perspective. It doesn’t eliminate the need to process woundings, or to do the laundry, or phone the plumber or whatever else. But it puts those tasks in perspective. They are an important small detail, but they are not the whole picture. When I can focus on the hints of beauty, the small irritations are somehow a little more manageable.