Today is not just another day. It’s the one day given to you today. It’s a gift. It’s the only gift you have right now, and the only appropriate response is gratefulness.
–Brother David Steindl-Rast
“Bear! See them?” shouted my friends. “Two of them!” I jumped up in my seat, excited, yet slightly rattled, given I had just dozed off to sleep. We had just left the city limits and were winding our way up a mountain road in the safe confines of a truck. I knew bears lived on this mountain, yet seeing them up close and personal—OMG! What an incredible surprise.
Surprises! However could we exist without them, for surprise, according to Brother David Steindl-Rast, is a beginning of that fullness we call gratefulness. Surprise stops us from taking things for granted. Moments of surprise, writes Steindl-Rath, want to teach us: everything is a gratuitous, everything a gift.
How often do we fail to remember this profound truth and fall asleep to the gifts of life? It’s so easy to forget in our hectic 24/7 world. We rush through our days or get caught up in routine until an unexpected surprise wakes us up.
This past year I’ve had the privilege to walk beside a beautiful man who faced an unexpected surprise—a diagnosis of male breast cancer (yes, men can get it too.) Talk about a wake-up call! So many people are surprised when they receive a diagnosis of cancer, yet half of all men and one-third of all women in the U.S. will develop cancer during their lifetimes.
Cancer, like a bear who shows up on a mountain road, can come and go given the wonders of modern medicine. But what I hope never leaves us, all of us, not only those who survive cancer, is the realization that every day we’re given is a gift.
In the following video, Brother David inspires us with his wisdom, as Louie Schwartzberg graces us with his breathtaking time-lapse nature photography. Now pay attention: if you stumbled across my post today, then surely, you were meant to receive gifts from these two phenomenal men.
For more on “Surprise and Gratefulness,” read an excerpt from one of Steindl-Rast’s inspirational books, Gratefulness, the Heart of Prayer: An Approach to the Fullness of Life.