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Posts Tagged ‘gratitude’

Today was a perfect autumn day, the kind that calls me out of my head and into my senses. The kind that finds me with my car windows rolled down and the music loud. The kind that makes me feel giddy and free. The kind that’s drenched in vibrant color and sunshine during the day, and graced with the scent of baking apples and cinnamon at dinner time. The kind that says to me, “hey, just maybe you can spend each and every day living in ‘radical amazement’ – each and every day – even the hard ones.”

There’s such sweet celebration and melancholy in autumn – temperatures drifting down, mists rising, the ancient choreography of birds embarking on their long migration, the harvest moon – an enchanting paradise so soon to be lost as nature once again begins her inevitable journey into the frigid arms of winter.

While the autumn advances and the leaves deepen and dazzle before relinquishing their hold on the bodies that have sustained them, my mother’s own grasp weakens as her cancer progresses and her spirit quickens. My love of nature has never been more acute than in autumn and I have never loved my mother more fiercely than right now.

I walk along the shore of Wolfe’s Neck woods, hear crows cawing in the distance, tilt my face up towards a gentler sun that caresses now instead of scorches. I’m both awed and saddened at the same time. I wonder how much of life is at its most beautiful just before dying. Is this the truest bitter gift of death, that life becomes oh so much sweeter?

Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote, “Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement. ….get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible; never treat life casually. To be spiritual is to be amazed.”

Ammidst the loss, the longing, the life, and the love, I am amazed……

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As Thanksgiving approaches, I’m reminded once again of the benefits to each of us of integrating a gratitude practice into our lives. Allowing ourselves to fully experience a sense of gratitude on a daily basis has proven to be highly beneficial to our minds, bodies, and souls (for more details about how this is so you might want to read, “Giving Thanks: The Effects of Joy and Gratitude on the Human Body” .)

Episcopal priest and author, Matthew Fox declares that gratitude is at the heart of his spirituality. Roman Catholic theologian, David Steindl-Rast, advices that gratitude is the source of our happiness, and Greek Philosopher, Epictetus, maintains that gratitude is a characteristic of wisdom. My own experience supports the assertions of these grateful sages.

When I practice gratitude on a daily basis I not only feel better, I believe that I become a better person. I’m more generous, appreciative, peaceful, and more easily open to wonder and awe. When my practice slips away, it’s not long before I notice the difference. I’m much more likely to be vulnerable to envy, discontentment, and anxiety. I worry more and sleep less; hoard more and give less; work more and celebrate less.

Melodie Beattie observed, “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…. It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.” My life is fuller when I practice gratitude, it makes more sense, and it offers so many more gifts as my heart opens wider to them.

Gratitude Resources:

Gratefulness.org

Selfless Gratitude

Spirituality & Practice: Gratitude


Lets Create more Grateful Organizations

Selfless Gratitude


Highlights from the Research Project on Gratitude and Thankfulness

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