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A Spiritually Enlightening Online Magazine. November's Theme: "Grateful"
Volume 7 Issue 1 ISSN# 1708-3265

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Gratitude - Rote or Heartfelt?
by Rev. Cheryl Jewett

"Appreciation of life does not require wealth or plenty.
It requires only gratitude for the beauty of the world."
             From 365 Tao, p 266

Do you say thank you only because that's what you've been taught all your life? Good manners, you know. Or, do you really mean it when you use those two words? If you do really mean it, it can open our hearts to a person; be that family, friend, stranger, or mere acquaintance. Being thankful can open our hearts unlike a closed heart whereby nothing out there is seen to be thankful for. Being grateful in that instance is simply routine and unfeeling as our culture dictates. Don't be afraid of the bond between the giver and receiver that you might feel. Connecting emotionally is spiritually uplifting, a life dance between spirits, including the Great Spirit.

So often, in the busyness of life, we roll those words of gratitude off our tongues by habit. We rarely even look at who is holding the door, or who is performing some other kind action. Maybe a glance, but that's usually about it. Blessed reciprocity - the art of giving and receiving - is acted out with nary a thought to what is transpiring. A dance of life, sadly, most people pay no attention to.

But, this interaction between people is a holy connection, a sacred bond. If in that instant the giver and receiver recognize and accept each other's presence and loving-kindness, each day, each moment, each incident is seen as a gift, and we realize our need to show our gratitude. To offer up our appreciation for ALL that is in our lives, be it bad or good, in our perception. Because no one thing encompasses good or evil in and of itself. Its meaning comes from our perception. Each enriches our lives in some way or another. We might not see that immediately, or even sometime soon. Remember, even something we perceive as bad has a lesson in it. Ultimately, gratitude gives us a comfort borne of a feeling of abundance, not lacking. Prosperity in ALL things - faith, love, relationships, time, forgiveness, energy, etc — is ours for the asking.

Being in a state of grace illuminates the Light within and awakens loving-kindness. Graciousness opens the heart, thus offering us those precious moments of grace, a feeling of oneness with the Universe. That moment is an exhilarating experience in which all is right with us and the world. When we're ONE with Tao, our consciousness subtly transforms people and situations, replacing discord with oneness, fear with compassion. Gratitude brings us the awareness of blessings in the Sacred Spirit's presence. Feeling appreciative expands this feeling of abundance. The flow goes from just being a trickle to Niagara Falls.

Our society, sadly, is driven by consumerism, a love of material things. It's been called the treadmill of good, better, best. The Gimme Syndrome. The Keeping-UP-With-The-Jones' Standard of Excellence. When we're in this space, nothing is ever enough. So, how can we be grateful for anything when we're never content with what we already have? Prideful? Yes. Grateful? Highly unlikely. The trick is to learn to scan our environment daily and express appreciation for what we already DO have. Surely, it can ease that feeling of lack through maintaining a focus on the NOW and appreciating how precious each moment truly is. Make a commitment to ourselves to count our blessings every single day, both morning and evening. We will feel incredibly blessed.

Counting our blessings will become a new habit for us. A quiet thankfulness for all we are, all we have, and all we do. That's at the top of the list because all good things spring from it. Family and friends, spirituality, our life passions, health, mode of transportation, home, our mind, body, and soul. And, so much more. Whether it's done verbally, in writing, or some other form of expression, God's magic will bring us a fresh wave of new perspective, a life-transforming shift. The magic is that it mystically puts the mind in a positive place versus a negative place, and brings a sweetness to life.

A few years ago, I started doing a gratitude list on Thanksgiving. This can be done on any holiday you choose, i.e., Christmas, New Year's Day, Easter, Ramadan, Hannukah, and so on. Mine began with a sheet of paper, but it has grown to an entire notebook. I give thanks for everything from my fingernails to hot fudge sundaes, from seashells to mountain pines. We'll find if we re-direct our focus toward abundance and prosperity in our world, then we will begin to actually experience more feelings of abundance and prosperity as they expand.

Too many folks focus solely on what they perceive as bad in life, but if we fail to see good in life, we become bitter and alone. And, it tends to diminish what joys and pleasures are found in life. In fact, the best antidote to resentment and bitterness is the continual practice of gratitude and forgiveness. For, within each unfortunate incident lies a wonderful opportunity for developing spiritually and emotionally. What's that phrase? "If life gives you lemons, make lemonade."

One way Buddhists find awareness in life and practice thankfulness is through saying mantras for each motion in life, each one reminding us of God's gifts to us, and our gratitude for them. It's similar to our offering grace before eating, but done more often. Buddhists, for example, have mantras to say when entering a room, when waking up, walking, etc. "Thank you, bed, for giving me rest." Thank you, door, for opening so easily." "Thank you, cup, for holding my tea this morning." This is their way of constantly connecting the mundane life with Divine Life. And perhaps, it's a lesson we could learn; reminding ourselves throughout the day of our Source, the Source of all that is, and the Source for all of us to which we will return to someday.

Our gift to the Holy God-Spirit is our love and gratitude for life itself. God's gift to us is a free will to choose hope over despair. The hope of a better life, indeed, a more spiritual life. Then ultimately, with a heart full of thankfulness, we know the peace we've always wanted is right there within. How incredibly blessed we are! Together, let us see and feel our unity with all, our ONENESS WITH GOD. May we open our hearts with love, allowing us to share the reciprocity needed to transform our thinking, bringing us ever closer to who and what we really are - Spirit!

Cheryl, from Michigan, says, "Having had Multiple Sclerosis for almost thirty years, I've learned much about adapting and squeezing joy out of life. Therefore, I am a metaphysical minister who believes God is in everything, everywhere. And, the Sweet God-Spirit surely lives in my little Maya-puppy, who kept me connected with life after my youngest son was killed in a freak automobile accident ten years ago."

Visit Cheryl's website at www.griefhealingthroughspiritfaith.com.

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