How many times have I made that trip to the store without stopping to think about what it took to make that simple event possible? If I unpack it, I find:
- Gratitude for my amazing physical health which is not to be taken for granted during this pandemic period. I can see, hear, and use all my other senses. I can walk to the car, drive 45 minutes to the store, shop for 30 minutes, carry all the groceries back home and put them away. Not everyone is so fortunate.
I spent two weeks in Russia in 1990. Stores were empty. Not just missing toilet paper and a few other staples empty. Empty-empty. Barren shelves empty. People spent hours standing in bread lines for a loaf of bread.
- Gratitude for financial stability. I am on Social Security, so while I’m not wealthy, I have a warm place to live and money to buy food and gas and the other necessities of life. However, I have to stop and thank the myriad of folks eighty years ago who decided a country is a community which should care for its weakest members. Also thanks to every clerk, every brainiac and computer jock who makes the system run, every mail delivery person and every bank person responsible for making those lovely numbers appear in my bank account every month. Every bite of food reminds me of how grateful I am.
- Gratitude for transportation. My car always starts thanks to an entire industry that makes and repairs engines, tires, bodies, brakes, and airbags, as well as another industry that conveniently dots gas stations along a paved highway that allows me to wind through the hills to the place where my groceries await. (While I hope to one day to replace gas pumps with charging stations, for me, that day still rests in the future.)
- Gratitude to farmers, farm workers, food processing workers, people who make packaging, truckers who deliver the goods, store cashiers and stockers, strong young people who push all those convenience carts back to the store, often wiping them down to help prevent the spread of a virus threatening so many of us.
- Gratitude to teachers who taught us to read and write and do basic math so the whole supply chain can contribute to the flow of plums from trees to a creatively labeled bottle on the shelf in front of me that I can see is jelly.
- Gratitude to nurses and doctors, dentists and acupuncturists, janitors and virus researchers, accountants and receptionists who create a healthcare system that supports the health we need to drive to the store to buy our groceries.
- Gratitude to the electricians, pole workers, scientists and fix-it-folks, as well as the propane delivery drivers who fill my tank so I can refrigerate or cook the groceries I brought home.
I look around and realize I’ve barely begun and neglected so many. I still haven’t thanked the people who made the dishes I use, the chair I sit on, the blankets which keep me warm at night, the trees that give me oxygen to breathe, the bees that make the wax my candle is burning, or the sun which makes the food I will eat possible in the first place.
I could sit here until tomorrow thanking all the elements of my trip to the grocery store, but it’s time to make breakfast and I haven’t even mentioned salt and pepper, the chickens that lay the eggs, or the people who milked the cows and made the butter I just plopped into the skillet.
When I think of all the things that have to be in place and go right just for me to make a simple trip to the grocery store, all I can do is say, “Thank you!”
In the 1300s, mystic theologian and philosopher Meister Eckhart said that would be enough.