“Gratitude is an art of painting an adversity into a lovely picture.”  ~Kak Sri

I grew up in a broken family long before divorce was socially acceptable. I spent most of my early adult life trying to replace my missing family connections with friendships that would fill up the empty spaces left by the void of family.    One of the aspects of family that I missed most as I grew up was how a family holds  your memories  and milestones as a collective. Over the years,  I have shared these collective memories with  very few people who have stayed in my life through the big shifts and life cycles.  The few that I still have are as precious as gold.

Tonight one of those old friends who I lost touch with over the years came for dinner. As we sat around the fire pit, recollecting and asking questions to fill in the gaps, I was filled with gratitude.  What a special and fortunate moment to sit under a starry sky with someone who has loved me for decades.  Memories of projects and births, weddings and old roommates momentarily bring the past forward and the present has this almost ethereal quality of all time existing at once.

Over the many years of our friendship, we have often challenged ourselves to a practice of “calling it all good.”  Giving up the judgment of right or wrong and any idea that things should be other than they are were the ground rules to seeing the goodness of everything that happens.  It is not unlike this summer of gratitude challenge that I am taking up now except that back then, I didn’t have the practice or the structure of the positivity quest behind me.

Anyone, anywhere, any time can call it all good –in theory at least.  But the practice of gratitude and seeing the goodness of what is in front of you requires the ability to be quiet and stop constantly chasing the thoughts in your head.  It demands a heart that is capable of some self love or at least compassion.  I am so grateful that the positivity quest has brought me the ability to cultivate these traits, so that I now have a real opportunity to learn this lesson that I have been contemplating on and off for my entire adult life.

Gratitude is one step past calling it all good I think.  It is the gift of seeing everything, even the most painful aspects of relating to life, as a gift. It is the proverbial gentle lesson that lives inside all adversity but often never gets articulated; so caught on the adversity we can’t see what the experience is holding for us.  What a happy reminder to sit by the firelight with an old friend and still share the intention to “call it all good.”