I hope those of you who celebrate Thanksgiving had a nice one. For many years Thanksgiving had been my favorite holiday. I got to spend more time with loved ones than at other holidays and the food was good. People were a bit more relaxed than at Christmas and tended to enjoy themselves a bit more.
Each Thanksgiving I used to make an entry into my journal and list all the things I was thankful for. It was my private part of the holiday. I've not done that practice in a few years, in part because I am writing more regularly with this blog and with other assignments, but also because I try and make gratitude a more regular practice. Being thankful is not only gracious and good manners, but it makes us happier. (http://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier)
What I have noticed is that Thanksgiving has been completely absorbed into the consumerist holiday of Christmas. Shopping starts on the day itself. I heard Christmas Carols begin on the radio 3 days before Halloween this year. However even before the rise of Black Friday as its own holiday of greed, Thanksgiving had faded in significance for most people. Many just see it as a day to indulge in large quantities of food and sit around and watch football games. The most fortunate of us that can afford this often do not spend any time reflecting on all the blessings we have.
So in this time when I have a warm bed and good roof over my head I want to reflect a bit on the blessings I personally possess. I live in relative safety far from a war zone. There are millions of people that can't say the same. I've never known true hunger. I have information unparalleled in human history at my fingertips for the asking. I have meaningful work that I enjoy. I've been blessed with favorable health. I grew up free from most forms of violence and crime. I have warm comfortable clothes that fit. I have been fortunate to find good teachers, friends, colleagues, and business partners. I live in an inspiring world of light, magic, and nature. I have been supported and guarded by spirit and flesh alike. These are but a few of the many blessings I sadly take for granted all too often.
More often than not we neglect to tell the people closest to us just how much we appreciate them. If respect is the soil in which love grows then gratitude is the water and light it needs to flourish. (My first blog post in the reboot of my blog was about respect). Lately when I perform my weekly ceremony I begin it by thanking all my helpers in spirit. I honor them all beginning with the Creator and the earth herself. This Friday I worked an event at an art center and I made public my weekly rattling prayer ceremony. The focus was growing the spirit of gratitude within our hearts. I am very grateful that I had the chance to do this. Normally I am alone when I do my prayer work, typically in my office. I can forget just how powerful simple ceremony is. When I began the center was practically a ghost town. We hadn't seen any potential customers in over an hour. As soon as I opened my mesa and began setting the space, people began to appear. When I shook my rattle a crowd started to walk by. It was almost like magic. It is easy to forgot just how powerful holding the spirit of gratitude within us can be, and how much of an effect it has on the world around us.
So how about you? Are you dwelling in gratitude or are you stuck complaining about all that is missing from your life? Do you appreciate all the small kindnesses that make the world go round? Do you tell the people who make your life better just how much you care for and appreciate them and all they do? Have you been gathering your blessings and lovingly counting them? If not perhaps you need to spend a little less time moving through the rituals of the season and a bit more time in reflection on all that life has offered you.
Peace and Blessings,