The best things in life aren’t things. -Art Buchwald
Some years ago, in Bhopal, India, poison gas leaked into the air through an industrial mishap. Disaster struck when people living in the vicinity of the factory inhaled those noxious fumes. Hundreds died and hundreds more were crippled for life. Even today memories of that dreadful day haunt those who survived, when Death came brandishing his blade, riding on the very air they breathed.
For most of us, what happened in Bhopal is a freak accident, not likely to happen to us. Although we pollute the air, we can breathe it, without the threat of disease or death, because gales of pure air drive out stagnant clouds of pollution. It is God’s way of continuing the free supply of air. And He levies no charges for His services.
Consider water. Could we live a normal day without it? Do we pay for it? Not really. The paltry sum we pay for the supply of water to our homes does not give us a true sense of its value, so much so we waste it. The abundance of water around us gives us the assurance that the waters of the earth will not run dry. That God will replenish dwindling stocks through life-giving rain.
What about the sights, smells and sounds of Nature? Watch a breathtaking dawn, when darkness cannot linger as the gates of morning are opened; or the grandeur of a sunset, as night drives back day, and you witness the Divine Artist at work. Wait, the show is not over. As evening lowers its dark mantle over the earth, a blood-red tropical moon casts its eerie glow. Wait a little longer to see twinkling stars adorn the dark sky. What a sight to behold, when night takes a deep breath and holds it!
Marvel at the flowerbeds – in a riot of colors - nodding their heads in the breeze. View unending lush green lawns or throw your head back and laud sturdy trees climb the sky. Take in the exhilarating fragrance of flowers and fruits, or taste delicious fruits that hang low from drooping branches, and you are beside yourself with unexplained joy. Or, stand in awe as jagged bolts of lightning touch the turbulent waters of the sea; or, be amazed at the power of the storm as it uproots and splinters giant leaf-clad monarchs of the forest; or, be stunned at the dexterity of the wind as it hurriedly sculpts the waters of the ocean into moving mountains. Even in its fury, Nature is beautiful!
Watch the seasons unfold. Spring, when the earth is unlocked, and the air is filled with the perfume of promise. Summer, when vegetation seems fulfilled, and fruit is abundant; and when hesitant summer rain cools your face. Listen to the music as your feet trample fallen autumn leaves. Watch the first snowflakes land lightly on expectant earth, as winter bids autumn goodbye. Gently the seasons make their entries and exits.
Be thrilled with the music of Nature – chirping birds and rustling leaves, whistling winds and the lapping of waves on the beach, rumbling thunder and rain pelting scorched earth.
We buy tickets to visit Art Galleries and Art Exhibitions, and to attend concerts and watch magic shows, but do not pay a penny to rejoice in the works of God. It is easy to dismiss these wonders as manifestations of Nature. What is Nature, but an outstretched finger pointing to God!
Have we stopped to think of time? Each moment is a gift because we do not know if the next will be ours. Yet, we are guilty of wasting precious time, because God gives it to us free.
His crowning gift is His love. Nothing that we do will diminish His love for us. His love brings with it an abiding peace. As an extension of His love for us, we receive love from those around us – parents, siblings, spouses, friends and others. And all the genuine love we receive is free.
Because we have life, we can plan and execute, perform and win praise, follow our creative urges, love and be loved,
raise a family, and cherish the love of children. It is true that death is an end to one phase of life – given to us free - but Death asks us to live life, when we have it.
We can enjoy life to the full only when we have bodies that house our souls. Rejoice at the miracle we call the body. Every single cell of the entire body is changed once in seven years. The average person possesses 500 to 700 different skills and abilities. The brain can store one hundred trillion facts. The nose can smell ten thousand different odors. Human touch can detect an item 1/25,000 of an inch thick. The tongue can taste one part of quinine in two million parts of water. The list goes on.
God is too good to be unkind and too wise to make mistakes. So, in His Infinite wisdom and mercy, He continues to shower us with His blessings. Neither will He stop giving nor will He take back any of His gifts. We are blessed. If we are to put a value to the gifts we receive from Him, we are millionaires, many times over.
Are we conscious of our indebtedness? Do we sincerely thank Him? Life in the mainstream has become a pavement-pounding activity in quest of profit, pleasure and possessions. We have little or no time to think of God. Even if we do, we try to keep Him out of our lives.
It is time we realized that the best things in life aren’t things and that they are free. It is also time that we gave Cicero’s words some thought: Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all. A thankful heart enjoys blessings twice – when they are received and when they are remembered.