In his book, The Song of the Bird, Jesuit priest Anthony de Mello tells a parable about a fish.
“Excuse me,” said an ocean fish. “You are older than I, so can you tell me where to find this thing they call the ocean?”
“The ocean,” said the older fish, “is the thing you are in now.”
“Oh, this? But this is water. What I’m seeking is the ocean,” said the disappointed fish as he swam away to search elsewhere.
The priest concludes his story by writing, “Stop searching, little fish. There isn’t anything to look for. All you have to do is look.”
What wise instruction for us during this season of Thanksgiving! So many people break their backs looking for happiness when all they have to do is look. The Our Town character, Emily Webb, put it this way, “Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it?”
There is so much to look at that can bless and sustain us on this journey. Look with new appreciation at your best friend, the clothes in your closet, the helpers all around us (with a nod to Mr. Rogers’ mother). Look at all the inspirational books in your library to read, stirring paintings at the museum to ponder, the restaurants and grocery stores all around you offering so many wonderful things to eat. Why, you can even look at your failures and mistakes without cringing, for they are some of the most valuable teachers in the world.
Best-selling author Melody Beattie has written, “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more.” Giving thanks can turn a meager meal into a banquet, a small apartment into a home, a neighborhood stroll into an adventure of enjoying God’s good creation. Step outside tomorrow morning, take in a breath of chilly autumn air, and then blow it out in a frosty puff — reminding you that you are alive one more day to thank your Creator.
So realize life while you live it. Look around instead of looking for all the time. And remember to give thanks to God, the source of all blessings, “for he is good; his love endures forever” (I Chronicles 16:34).