Many years ago, my grandfather was helping me feed our horses. To feed and water all 40 took about an hour. He was quiet and introspective but enthusiastically worked beside us. The last thing we needed to give the horses before putting them out to pasture was cubed alfalfa hay. I would scoop 8 pounds of cubes into a bucket and feed each horse. We would roll a huge wheelbarrow filled with 150 pounds of cubes at a time with us as we walked around the barn. When the wheelbarrow was full, some cubes would get knocked down to the barn floor. As I fed the first horse, I noticed my grandfather reach down and pick up the dropped pieces and put them back in the wheelbarrow. Second horse, he did the same thing. I told him not to worry about it, some always fall anyway. Third Horse, he did the same thing. I told him again it was ok. But he just looked at me and said nothing. Fourth horse, same thing. But this time, I said nothing. On the fifth horse, I became more careful. I didn’t scoop as carefree. We finished feeding in our normal silence. Yet to be honest, my mind was reeling with what the possible lesson he was trying to convey.
I tried in vain to convince myself it was some kind of outdated, depression era, farm boy thinking. We were so fortunate. Why be so careful when we were so blessed? Wasn’t it a waste of time to go back and pick up all those pieces when no harm was done? How could anyone spend so much time always looking back to see if they made mistakes? What about just living life in the moment?
I am thankful my grandfather was there that morning. Watching him bend down to pick up those cubes spoke to me in a way no lecture ever could. In the end I was embarrassed, because I knew I was wrong and he was right. To be so flippantly wasteful was not being grateful for what we had. I viewed my blessing in Thousands, he viewed his blessings by the penny. He was not a Scrooge over what he and my grandmother had worked for but instead they appreciated it all. When I fed that morning, I only saw the big barn, the stalls full of horses, and pastures. He saw all that and more. I know that now because I can see the “more”.
When you can appreciate the smallest level of plenty in your life, it makes everything else that much more radiantly beautiful. Happiness becomes easier to attain. By picking up 50 cents worth of cubes, we were giving to our own future. Giving ourselves a raise without having to search out more income. To be thankful for it now as opposed to want for it later.
My thinking has changed drastically from that day’s experience. I know now my grandfather was sharing one of life’s biggest secrets with me.
Be faithful with the small measures in life and the large measures will become easy.