People of Gratitude

Speaking of Gratitude, we are so grateful for this Quilt which will be raffled off at this year’s Holly Fair on the Saturday following Thanksgiving! There’s a wonderful story behind this year’s Quilt, but you’ll have to keep your eyes and ears peeled…

This is the time when we come back around to Gratitude.  This time of gratitude that precedes the time of Giving.  The reminder that we have enough, we are enough, and that what is most important comes to us in abundance.  Gratitude is our guide to reciprocity and true giving.  

What is gratitude?  PAUSE.  Is it the same as thanks or is it something more?  Is it a blessing?  Is it big enough to be with us when we are scared, when life is hard, when things are awful, when life is unfair?  Is it possible to feel blessed and grateful in all things?  Is it possible to hold to the prayer of thanksgiving when things are really messy?  

Let’s come back to the kids and their Gratitudes.  What they are thankful for.  Notice that it’s not the stuff.  PAUSE. And sometimes, it IS the stuff.  PAUSE.  It’s okay to be grateful for the stuff.  Let’s face it, we’re probably all grateful for shelter, heat, hot water, our cars, our “toys”.  Yes, we have our grown up toys and it’s okay to be grateful for them.  Honestly, it’s probably wise to be grateful for the extra things we have.   

Notice when we think about and list what we’re grateful for, we quickly come to people and pets. Love and the abundance all around us. Nature and the more than human world.  Art and kindness.  We’re grateful for courage and genuine leaders.  We’re grateful for this place and one another.  The big things.  The simple things.  Often the things we can’t hold or even describe.  PAUSE.  

Notice how when someone mentions a gratitude that we suddenly remember that we are also grateful for that thing too?  Gratitude grows and is fed by more gratitude.  Gratitude reminds us that abundance is always there. Sometimes it’s hidden under a rock or under “more important” thoughts or emotions gone loud and greedy for attention.  But blessings are always there.  Each week, we share our concerns and sorrows, but rooted in those is abundance and gratitude.  We care and worry, because we are blessed by the people in our lives and the world around us that we love.  PAUSE.  

Practice Gratitude long enough and we’re suddenly full of the richness of life, until we come full circle back to ourselves and realize the blessing that is the spark of our life, perhaps we feel the divine within, the light that is us…that we EXIST!!!  That is where gratitude leads us and then we’re led to something even more.  Beyond just us and everything.  We turn to that which we feel at our very core.  The Mystery.  The Grace.  PAUSE.  That something Bigger.  

Gratitude.  It’s pretty amazing.  

Yeah, we might greet gratitude and thanksgiving with a roll of our eyes.  Here we go again.  We did this last year and the year before.  Maybe we’re so tired of all those studies that tell us we’ll be happier beings if we write down three things we’re grateful for every night.  Maybe we’re really tired that not only should we write them down, but we should write whole long sentences about what we’re grateful for to get better results.  Maybe we’re still waiting for those “better results” and that happiness to magically appear!!  

But…the more we explore and engage and dive in, the more there is to find.  Often, we stop just when things get rolling.  There’s always a “give up” point masked by many excuses, including: I’ve done enough and there’s so many other things I could be doing that are just as valid.  The more we practice gratitude, the more we have to be grateful for.  We’re never “done” with gratitude.  That’s like saying we’re done with faith and prayer and love and hope.  The more we engage and practice these magical things, the more they grow.  And they feed off of each other. 

Sit with Gratitude.  A prayer of thanksgiving.  We don’t start big.  We don’t skip steps.  It’s like its own art form.  We don’t start with the giant canvas and the extra expensive paints.  We start with paper and crayons.  We start small.  That’s why: three things.  That’s why stuff is okay.  We should be grateful for the stuff and just because we mentioned that we’re grateful for our car doesn’t mean we’re less grateful for our mother.  The great thing about the really important things is that they don’t diminish one another.  They emphasize one another. 

That’s another thing that makes this practice of faith so beautiful…it helps us to remember that there is an abundance of the important stuff.  Love isn’t finite.  It is infinite.  Faith isn’t finite, it is infinite.  Hope isn’t finite, it is infinite.  Maybe our relationship to stuff is better expressed by an idea that there IS more than enough for us…and others.  It might not be infinite, but our relationship to it could be infinite.  Plenty of pie for everyone…or maybe it IS infinite.  

Prayer.  Meditation.  Sitting with Gratitude.  It often looks, and feels, like we’re doing “nothing”.  Just sitting.  Just being.  Just listing.  That we could be doing something more important or more outwardly productive.  But it’s so deeply profound.  Because it is infinite.  It grows.  And it grows even more with sharing.  

Notice how it starts out obeying the rules. List three things.  Sometimes it’s hard to find those three things (hint: those are times it is most important to not quit).  Sometimes, we’re overwhelmed by how much we have to be grateful for (hint: those are the times when it is most important not to quit).  Then it begins to turn things inside out and upside down.  That’s part of the Mystery.  Then we start to GIVE and we don’t expect anything in return.  We are gifted with a gratitude from our actions.  PAUSE.  We bask in the warm glow of giving and we are blessed.  Expecting nothing in return. We already received.  And we begin to find happiness.  

Now happiness is one of those early steps. This warm glow is an early step. It continues to grow and evolve.  Until we start to become grateful for things that “bothered us” before.  We give in bigger ways that seem small and simple.  We just pick up the piece of garbage.  We just say hello anyway.  We just pay it forward anyway.  We’re blessed because of our gratitudes, regardless of the outcomes of our words and actions.  We still practice and we are still grateful and we continue to do so.  And it grows.

We notice more and more abundance and joy AND we begin to notice how much more we have to offer back that we didn’t realize we had.  More energy. More enthusiasm.  More love. More hope.  More.  It just gets bigger and we become bigger.  We become Joyful.  Joy is Bigger than happiness.  See, we’ve grown again!

We look for the good and help others to notice. We look for the helpers and help others to notice.  We look for the joy and we help others to find the joy.  

This is why we come together.  To rejoice and serve and pray.  Part of our prayer is gratitude.  Deep deep gratitude that brings us together as one people. People of faith. People of trust.  People of love. People who give.  People who are grateful.  

May we Gather, Grow, and be Grateful.  

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