The following is a short parable. May it bring you new perspective on facing old struggles.
“Excuse me, sir. What do you see?” the small voice came from beside the bench where the man was sitting close to the lake. His thoughts had been caught up in despair, wrapped around the gray tombstone of hopes dashed.
“What do you see?” the small voice insisted.
Slowly, his eyes blinked from their stupor and a deep breath pushed his head, heavy with pain, towards the voice. There, beside him was a young girl, head ablaze with red curls. Her lips were shaped in expectancy, and a barely perceptible blink covered her green globes of eyes only for an instant.
“What do you see?” she asked him again while waving her miniature hand out over the trembling lake water before them.
He didn’t see anything but gloom, heartache, and regret floating about on the ruptered waters of his life.
It was a strange question anyway, especially coming from a girl who seemed to materialize out of nowhere. “Where did she even come from?” he thought. “I thought I was here alone.”
“Don’t worry, sir,” the small voice chirped, shaking him once again from his stupor. “I’ll show you what is really there.” And she stood, like an arrow, straight and strong, facing the empty waters.
He snorted at her interruption. He had wanted to sulk, to revel in the injustice of it all. To soak in all the poison which grows from ingratitude and scream it over the still waters.
“There!” her body rigid, arm outstretched, she jabbed her finger straight into the unknown before them. “Do you see that?” she nearly screamed in excitement. “See what?” the man replied, “There is nothing there to see.”
“You mean to tell me you can’t see it?” She looked at him aghast, mouth gaping. It was making him uncomfortable. He looked again, just to appease her.
He leaned forward, his body now taught with curiosity, his eyes squinting their way across the water, across the pain, sprinting the distance between here and there. Between where he was and where he wanted to be.
Unexpectedly he felt her tiny fingers slip something into his hand, something cold and heavy with significance. It was a rock and on it was one word: GRATITUDE.
“Thank you,” he whispered distractedly.
Once released, the words “THANK YOU” shot over the waters, as a thousand thundering horses. They broke through the haze over his eyes, the haze over his heart. He hadn’t even known it was there.
“I see it!” he abruptly shouted, his voice echoing over the water, a million reminders of the life still begging to course through his veins. He gulped the air in front of his lips before it escaped, and jumped to his feet as sunlight, wild with color, rushed through the dispersing haze of blame and complaint.
“Why have I never seen it before?” the words tumbled forcefully from his mouth as he turned to question the girl.
But she was gone.
“Gratefulness un-clouds the eyes,” her voice whispered from the empty sphere beside him.
A light wind caught the cuff of his pant leg and he looked down. He realized he was standing tall, eyes wide with hope, facing fully forward, a feeling that had eluded him for years. Years of ingratitude had stooped the shoulder, dragged the foot, darkened the eye, and slanted the body fearful.
“Thank you,” he bellowed with conviction which pulled the very roots of acidic bitterness from deep within. “Thank you,” he whispered as he fell to his knees. “Thank you.”
“I look for the ugly beautiful, count it as grace, transfigure the mess into joy with thanks.” Ann Voskamp
Gratefulness un-clouds the eyes. Try it and experience it for yourself!