Gratitude Stalks You

May 4, 2012

Gratitude stalks you
Unawares you are ambushed
Smile in surprise

Earlier this week I was in the woods at a stream swollen with spring, and a familiar situation overtook me. It’s similar to coming upon a beautiful scene by surprise or having an unusual interaction with an animal–and of course you left the camera at home. This is the situation of coming upon a sublime space, maybe in some ordinary place where you’ve been many times, and your heart is unexpectedly opened and full to overflowing. Perhaps you can hear the voices of water, rocks and trees. This is the time for ritual, but you have no offering. A simple thank you does not seem like enough. What gift can you leave to signify the importance of this moment?

Fortunately, a priestess twenty years ago taught me that you can leave a strand of hair as an offering. Trees love hair–that’s why they grab at your head as you walk down the trail. In the desert you can offer a few drops from your water bottle, but where I live a water offering seems superfluous. (It’s one thing we have plenty of!)

There are many offerings you can make when you come with just yourself.

If you have a few coins in your pocket, trees also love money. They prefer coin to paper money. Water and earth like coins as well.

A gesture can be an offering: a hug, kiss or pat on a rock or tree. Touch water and rub your forehead. Spinning or jumping are more exhuberant gestures.

The spoken word is a profound offering. A prayer said out loud. A song, not necessarily a spiritual song but even a popular song that comes into your head at the moment. Conversation can be a wonderful gift that trees and animals value. They might not understand your words, but they hear the tone and cadence. Animals particularly like the higher pitched, more melodic voices of children and women.

If the ground is sandy, you can write a message with a stick: a symbol, a picture, a word. Pebbles can also be arranged to send a message.

What other empty-handed offerings can you suggest? Leave a message in the comments.