This weekend in Canada we will celebrate Thanksgiving on Monday October 13, 2014. My American friends will soon be celebrating Thanksgiving on Thursday November 27th. In honour of this special time of year, I would like to offer you this reflection, and poem on gratitude.
This year, as I reflect back on a huge year of transition for myself and many others, I don’t want this practice to be flat. I don’t want us to simply make a list of all the things we are grateful for without a deeper level of introspection. To me, this year, this practice of gratitude is asking us to dig deeper.
In The Book of Awakening Mark Nepo says,
“To be grateful means giving thanks for more than just the things we want, but also for the things that surmount our pride and stubbornness. Sometimes the things I’ve wanted and worked for, if I actually received them, would have crushed me.
Sometimes just giving thanks for the mystery of it all brings everything and everyone closer, the way suction pulls streams of water together. So take a chance and openly give thanks, even if you’re not sure what for, and feel the plenitude of all that is living brush up against your heart.”
Reflect back on this year. What has brushed up against your heart? What has broken your heart? What has brought your heart to a deeper level of healing? Can you find an opening in your heart to appreciate how these experiences have helped you grow and develop as a human being? Is there capacity for gratitude even in these experiences?
Jack Kornfield says that in some Buddhist traditions, there’s a prayer in which one makes a rather challenges and obstacles from the universe. These challenges and obstacles are seen as an opportunity for our hearts to open with compassion in a more authentic way.
Have the challenges you’ve faced in the past year allowed you to open your heart with compassion in a more authentic way? Is there a capacity to experience gratitude for these challenges on this level?
One of the phrases that my yin yoga teacher, Carly Forest repeats to us each week is, May I trust in the great mysterious unfolding of my life. May I trust.
Jack Kornfield says, “Gratitude is confidence in life itself, in it we feel the same force that pushes grass through the cracks in sidewalks invigorates our lives – Jack Kornfield.”
Can we have confidence in our life? Can we truly be grateful for all that shows up? Can we create enough stillness and space in our lives to reflect on the beautiful unfolding of our lives. Can we see the value of what is present in our lives? Can we see that what is present allows us to grow into the Truth of who we are?
There is a beautiful American Indian Lakota Prayer,
Great Mystery, teach me how to trust my heart, my mind, my intuition, my inner knowing, the senses of my body, the blessings of my spirit. Teach me to trust these things so that I may enter my sacred space and love beyond my fear, and thus walk in balance with the passing of each glorious sun.
Allow me to finish with a poem by Mary Oliver
Messenger by Mary Oliver
My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird—
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.
Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,
which is mostly standing still and learning to be
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all the ingredients are here,
which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.
A link to last year’s meditation, yoga practices and recipes: Link