Spirit Matters: What is the sun shining its light on in your life?

Jerrilyn Zavada Novak

It has been a topic of casual conversation for me several times this week.

The weather, that is.

As I sat in a stylist’s chair to get my hair cut, and as I nervously walked through the doors to get my annual mammogram, we couldn’t help but marvel at the recent streak of mild autumn days with which we have been blessed.

It is something my husband and I include in our prayers of gratitude every night before we go to bed, as well.

In some ways, it starts to sound repetitious … “thank you again for another beautiful November day … the sunshine, the warm temperatures, the unique scent of fall in the air, the crunchiness of the leaves beneath our feet … ”

I get frustrated with my inability to be more creative in the ways I say “thank you” for mundane things like this unseasonably warm weather. Yet, I’m fairly confident the one to whom I am giving thanks basks in my childlike repetition, grateful to hear the voice of my spirit checking in again.

This morning I had worked my way into a serious case of “monkey mind.”

After a flurry – or was it a blizzard? – of swinging from branch to branch on the internet, I knew I wasn’t going to get anywhere with this week’s reflection unless I stepped away from my laptop for a while. Even as I took a shower, I wasn’t so sure I was going to return to a more “normal” state of mind once I got dressed and sat back down.

But as I resettled into the chair at the desk, I couldn’t help but put my feet up and revel at the falling leaves outside the window, and the sunlight falling just so on the plant in front of it.

Just like that, I, and my monkey mind, had returned to Earth.

And, I thought, this is really one of the greatest gifts fall has to offer.

Autumn teaches us to change our way of looking at things we otherwise don’t notice.

I look out this window all the time, but I rarely notice the plant, as it has pretty much faded into the background. But in the mid-morning November sunlight, it comes alive in an entirely new way.

And just as I wrote those last few sentences, I noticed the sunlight on an elephant figurine that sits right behind my laptop. Similar to the plant, I don’t usually notice this figurine anymore.

But today, the spirit, through the rays of the sun, shone a light on this baby elephant’s face, asking me to look – to really look – and consider what this represents for me.

Elephants symbolize many things to many people. When I see one, I am reminded of their wisdom, strength, stability, intuition and gentle heart. These are all certainly great qualities to which I aspire, and the figurine’s brief moment in the spotlight reminds me of this.

The baby elephant, riding on its mother’s back, reminds me also to be playful, and to remember that I am safe in the hands of the great mother who gives me life and guides me along the way.

This week, many will take time out of their routines to formally offer gratitude for the many gifts life has to offer. Of course, it is a practice that needn’t and shouldn’t be confined to one day each year.

As you consider those things, people and situations in your life for which you are grateful, why not take a few moments to allow the sun to shine in the darker corners of your life?

You just might find something there for which to be thankful that hadn’t occurred to you before.

And in my mind, that is really what giving thanks is all about: recognizing the gifts that arise from every part of life – the good, the bad and everything in between – and naming them.

SPIRIT MATTERS is a weekly column that examines experiences common to the human spirit. Contact Jerrilyn Zavada Novak at jzblue33@yahoo.com to share how you engage your spirit in your life and community.

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