The Gift of Gratitude
Sages say if we could manage to be grateful—truly grateful—for all we have during each moment of our lives, we would then want for nothing. The desires of our hearts would flow to us, drawn like iron filings to a magnet. In theory, it’s a little bit like that saying, “Success breeds success” and its opposite, “Misery loves company.” True appreciation brings you more for which to feel appreciative.
I don’t know about you, but it’s a challenging prospect, feeling grateful every moment…when still more bills come in, when we’re disappointed by someone, when a child or pet gets sick or the car breaks down—in the rain. When the Universe is dumping such misfortunes on our heads, we’d have to be crazy to raise our eyes to the sky and say, “Thank you!” Right?
Well, maybe not. Life inspires many of us. We accept that as plain truth. The beauty of a sunset inspires us to bliss; the vast raft of stars at night strikes us silent with awe. A giggling child makes us laugh, the sight of a handsome man or woman inspires a warm glow. Is it too much of a stretch to think we might, by our emotional state, inspire the Universe as well?
We live life; why shouldn’t it live through us also? Pretend for a moment you’re the Universe and you work in an office with two fellow employees. You interact with both of them on a daily basis and assist both when you have the time. When you help Employee A, he complains about everything, finds fault with how hard he has to struggle and bemoans the amount of work yet to be done. Employee B, on the other hand, is warm and appreciative of your help, always says how much faster things go when you’re around and passes the time while you’re working with positive conversation. Okay—you have one hour you can spend helping either of these coworkers. Whom will you choose?
I hope I will always be appreciative when life comes showering me with beauty, health and laughter and I hope that inspires the Universe to bring me more of the same. Gratitude is a gift—to the one who gives it.
When the trawler White Gull was lost in a storm off the coast of Lobster Cove, Lisbeth O'Shea's husband, Declan, was lost along with it. At least that’s what Lisbeth believes until, a year later, she hears Declan’s voice in the night and sees him haunting the shore near their tiny cottage. Then she wonders… Has grief affected her mind? Or is someone playing a cruel trick?
Town blacksmith Rab Sinclair has loved Lisbeth ever since he arrived in Lobster Cove. Lisbeth has never had eyes for anyone other than the charming, feckless Declan O’Shea, but Rab knows Declan was not faithful to Lisbeth. How can he convince the grieving widow she’s pinned her heart on the wrong man? And when dangerous secrets come to light, how can Rab protect the woman who means more to him than his own life?
Lightning flashed once more, flooding her eyes with brightness. In the doorway of the bedroom stood a figure wearing dripping oilskins with only the sou'wester missing from his bare head.
In the sudden darkness that followed the lightning she moaned his name and then shouted it.
"Declan? Declan, Declan!" She heard movement, the scrape of a boot on the floorboards, the flap of his coat as he turned and left the doorway. With a sob, she followed. Hands stretched before her like a blind woman, she felt for him, stubbed her bare toe on the leg of the bedstead and faltered. She blundered from the room in his wake.
The cottage boasted but three rooms: this bedroom they had shared, another smaller bedroom she'd dreamed of someday using as a nursery for her children and the main room which combined parlor and kitchen. The darkness of the main room enfolded Lisbeth like black velvet. She had but a glimpse of paler darkness as the front door opened and closed again.
She followed after him, her heart torn between gladness and pain. He was here! But if he truly were here, returned by some miracle from the same sea that had stolen him, why would he go from her? She reached the door, tore it open and stared out into the storm. Waves and salt spray poured over the stones in front of the cottage. Static filled the air and lightning arced overhead, the thunder competing for dominance with the crash of the rain. Wearing only her nightgown, Lisbeth was immediately soaked to the skin. The wind tore at her hair as she strained to catch sight of the figure she had glimpsed in the doorway.
From the cottage, as well she knew, a path led either north to a narrow strip of shingle or south towards Lobster Cove. Which way might he have gone? She could see nothing but storm, the raging elements that matched the furor now in her heart. Would he head down to the sea? Most this coast consisted of sheer rock but the O’Sheas possessed that stony beach where they had hauled up their boats and readied their lobster traps.
The boats were all gone; the White Gull lay in pieces. Why would Declan go there? Having come home to her, why would he leave at all?
She walked barefoot to a break in the rocks where the sea poured in like a gray beast, alive and wild. No one but a madman would be down on that strip of shingle now.
She turned her head toward the track but saw nothing. The thought came to her: maybe I imagined it. But she had heard the scrape of his boots on the floor. She had seen his hair ruffled by the force of the storm.
A dream, then. She’d had them before, yes, but never, never so real. She returned to the cottage where she shut the door and hurried to the fireplace. With clumsy hands, she searched for matches and the stub of a candle. Her fingers shook so violently it took her three attempts to put flame to the wick.
The light took hold slowly and seemed pitifully inadequate. Thrusting it aloft, Lisbeth retraced her steps to the door of her room, careful to keep her now-sodden garments swept back, her eyes on the floor.
A trail of wet led its way to the bedroom door and culminated on the threshold.
The very place where he had stood.
The candle tumbled from her suddenly numb fingers and the flame went out.
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Born and raised in Western New York, Laura Strickland has pursued lifelong interests in lore, legend, magic and music, all reflected in her writing. Though her imagination frequently takes her to far off places, she is usually happiest at home not far from Lake Ontario with her husband and her "fur" child, a rescue dog. Author of Scottish romances Devil Black and His Wicked Highland Ways as well as The Guardians of Sherwood Trilogy consisting of Daughter of Sherwood, Champion of Sherwood and Lord of Sherwood, she has also published two Steampunk romances, Dead Handsome: a Buffalo Steampunk Adventure and Off Kilter: a Buffalo Steampunk Adventure and two Christmas novellas: The Tenth Suitor and Mrs. Claus and the Viking Ship. Her Lobster Cove Historical Romance, The White Gull, will be followed by a Lobster Cove novella, Forged By Love.