The other day I was feeling like a martyr – the invisible maid at my house who fixes the meals and cleans up after everybody with little or no thanks. Then I began to wonder. Who are the invisible servants in my life? Who are the people who work hard to make my life pleasant - and I don’t even notice? Who am I forgetting to acknowledge and thank? It didn’t take long before I discovered I too am guilty of not appreciating those who serve me.
That day while I was grinding wheat to make bread, I really looked at the individual kernels. Then I thought about the person who grew, harvested and shipped this nutritious food source to me. Though we will never know each other, I thought about my new found benefactors and thanked them. After I took the hot loaves from the oven, I sliced a steaming hot piece of bread for each of my children. As I spread the butter and honey on top of each slice I thought about the people who had fed and milked the cows and those who gathered and packed the honey. I thought about the bees going from flower to flower - and paused.
A simple slice of homemade bread was available to me through the hard work and generosity of countless others. I thought about the trucker who drove these products to market and the person who stocked the food at the grocery store. I thought about the people who made the road for the truckers. I thought about my husband going to work every day so I could have the money to buy the food. It took an army of people to feed me and my children. Why was I worried about being unappreciated for my simple part in this great chain? I played a small part among the countless people who made a simple meal possible for me and my family every day. It occurred to me - I live off the hard work of others every single day - and I barely notice.
Later in the day I paid attention to each piece of clothing I was wearing and thought about the people who grew the cotton, made the cloth, cut the pattern and sewed the shirt. Then I remembered my whole closet full of clothes all sewn by unseen hands. Someone raised the sheep and produced the wool for my winter coat. Someone raised cattle and produced the leather for my shoes. I’d never even thought about or thanked any of these people.
That night as I observed the deep purples and ambers as the sun dipped into the horizon, I wondered again. How many sunrises and sunsets have I ignored? How many breaths have I taken without a thought to the creator? My life is a gift from an unseen benefactor – who prefers to remain anonymous.
Life’s simplest pleasures are truly gifts to be noticed and appreciated. Whether we perceive our daily blessings and give quiet thanks or not, our unseen benefactors keep the gifts coming. Perhaps the best way to express gratitude for our personal bounty is to do our own work with a little less self pity and a little more joy. At life’s end we will discover the greatest reward we receive for the work we do is not what we get but who we become. Common tasks performed with great love create the kind of riches money can’t buy.