Gratitude and Liminal Spaces


It has been a tumultuous week.  Sometimes our minds travel to far off lands, while other times, our attention is drawn closer to home.

I want to join others in acknowledging the sadness I felt in watching the violence in Boston this past week.  And then the explosion in Texas..  I am filled with compassion and empathy for those in crisis both in these situations, as well as those suffering elsewhere.

When we feel personally connected to or affected by a particular tragedy – wherever they take place in the world – we are forced to confront our own mortality, and we are often moved into a place of introspection.   We are forced to pause – our flow interrupted – and we reassess our values, our life choices, our direction.  Through this process, a space is created.

A liminal space.

The place of waiting, of transition, of uncertainty.  A space that can become a dark void of sadness and fear; a space that can become a ‘blip on the radar’ that we may later forget.  Or, it may become a place of transition – a threshold that we cross in order to move forward in a new direction.

I watched the images of the Boston Marathon as a bystander, far removed from the scene of the events, yet it struck a chord immediately.  I was forced to stop and connect with my loved ones, I was reminded of how lucky I am to be healthy and alive.  I am grateful for this moment, since nothing is certain.

I stumbled upon a beautiful TED talk  by Louie Schwartzberg, an award-winning cinematographer, producer, director and photographer.  Titled ‘Gratitude’, he presents his project ‘Happiness Revealed’, accompanied by his stunning still-life and stop-motion photographs of nature.  While I would encourage you with all my heart to take 9 minutes and 38 seconds of your life to watch this beautiful and mesmerizing piece, I have transcribed the words from the film below, in case you choose not to.

Sometimes things capture your heart and your mind, and you are left with no choice but to share it with others.

Happiness Revealed – Short Film by Louie Schwartzberg

Excerpt found in his TED talk – Gratitude

You think this is just another day in your life… it’s not just another day.  It’s the one day that is given to you.  Today.

It’s given to you – it’s a gift.  It’s the only gift that you have right now, and the only appropriate response, is gratefulness.

If you do nothing else, but to cultivate that response to the great gift that this unique day is.  If you learn to respond as if it is the very first day of your life, and the very last day… then you will have spent this day very well. 

Begin by opening your eyes and be surprised that you have eyes that you can open, that incredible array of colours that is constantly offered to us, for pure enjoyment.

Look at the sky.  We so rarely look at the sky.  We so rarely notice how different it is from moment to moment, with clouds coming and going.  We just think of the weather.  And even with the weather we don’t think of all the many nuances of weather.  We just think of good weather and bad weather.  This day, right now, this unique weather, maybe a kind that will never exactly in that form come again.  That formation of clouds in the sky will never be the same as it is right now.

Open your eyes.  Look at that.

Look at the faces of people whom you meet.  Each one has an incredible story behind their face.  A story that you could never fully fathom.  Not only their own story, but the story of their ancestors.   We all go back so far.

And in this present moment, and on this day, all the people you meet, all that life from generations and from so many places all over the world, forced together and meets you here like a life-giving water if you only open your heart and drink.

Open your heart to the incredible gifts that civilization gives to us.  You flip a switch and there is electric light, and you turn a faucet and there is warm water and cold water.  And drinkable water.  A gift that millions and millions in the world will never experience. 

And these are just a few of the enormous number gifts to which you can open your heart.  And so I wish that you will open your heart to all these blessings, and let them flow through you.  So that everyone you meet on this day will be blessed by you.  Just by your eyes, by your smile, by your touch.  Just by your presence.  Let the gratefulness overflow into blessing all around you. 

Then it will really be a good day.