Many years ago our church held a youth conference that lasted for several days. The trip consisted of a lengthy bus ride, a three -night stay at a university campus, and sight-seeing of church historical sites. It was a wonderful experience and I was glad that I had the opportunity to attend it. Our church boundaries took in most parts of the inner city. Many of the inner city youth had never seen the countryside or had even been out of the state. As our bus rambled over the highway, I recall smiling when I heard one of the girls exclaim, “Look, there is a cow! I’ve never seen a live one before!” It had never crossed my mind that something of such little importance would be such a marvel to anyone. I looked out the window of our moving bus and, sure enough, there they were, some plain looking cows grazing in a field. I have seen plenty of cows in my day but I don’t recall ever looking at them in great awe. Some of these youths did. That day on the bus, I sat back in my seat and pondered about the many blessings that I overlook in my life. And although some might not think it is a “blessing” to be able to have seen a cow, I beg to differ. Being able to see the beauty of God’s work is always a blessing.
Many years ago my wife and I took a cruise. One of the “options” on the trip was to “swim with the stingrays”. And although I had seen stingrays in movies and television plenty of times, it didn’t hold a candle to the experience of swimming next to a “live” one. I still have a photo of my wife, standing in waist high water, huge grin on her face as she held one of those magnificent creatures in her arms. I was amazed at their beauty and grace as I swam next to them. To me, “swimming with the stingrays” was a highlight of the trip. I have never forgotten the feeling. But somehow the joy of seeing a cow has long since lost its luster.
Just this past year Thomas S. Monson quoted the English author Aldous Huxley, who wrote -
“Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted”
Then he gave great council when he said-
“…those things which provide deep and lasting happiness and gratitude are the things which money cannot buy: our families, the gospel, good friends, our health, our abilities, the love we receive from those around us. Unfortunately, these are some of the things we allow ourselves to take for granted” (“The Divine Gift of Gratitude”, October 2010, GC).
For most of us, “swimming with stingrays” rarely comes our way, so we feel enriched. But “seeing cows” comes so often, we forget to enjoy its beauty. Let us not take for granted the common daily blessings in our lives. So, the next time you see a cow, take a moment to appreciate its majestic and graceful nature. Because, if you look closely into its eyes, I’m sure you will see… the divinity of its creator, our Father