One morning after finishing the dishes, my husband and I were talking in the kitchen. I was complaining (a bit) about all the work it was to keep up the house. Owning a home, especially an older one, there’s always something that needs to be done. My tone was something between a complaint and a whine. It was not gratitude for this beautiful home we have.

When I finished complaining, I picked up my car keys and headed out the door to the grocery store. When I returned, the strangest thing happened. I put the house key in the lock, but it wouldn’t work. I tried jiggling it gently, moving it left and right. I pulled the key out and tried again. I wiggled and tried the lock for a good five minutes.

Defeated, I went around to the front door and tried that lock (all the locks use the same key). This lock wouldn’t open either. I stepped back and stood there looking at the front door. It was then I heard distinctly in my heart, “The house has locked you out!” I stood there in amazement. It appeared it had! After standing there for some time, I said quietly, “I hear you. I will not forget how fortunate I am to have you. Thank you for your shelter. Thank you so much.”

I realize I may have lost you on that one. You might be thinking, She talks to houses. I never had before, but now I have to say, yes, I do.

Surrendering to the situation, I rang the doorbell for my husband to come let me in. We tried his keys and they worked fine. He looked at my key and said, “I guess sometimes they just stop working.” Hmm. We ended up having new keys made for me.

The German mystic Meister Eckhart wrote, “If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.”

Whining is so easy, so habitual. Gratitude is the higher road I’m still learning to walk. Often you’ll find gratitude as a theme in my art—in one way or another—as I create pieces to remind myself of its importance in my life.