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Gratitude and Generosity

This last week before Advent is a time to reflect on how we are present in the world.  The following reflection  from the Center for Action and Contemplation speaks of living from a core of gratitude.  

“Lakota author and activist Doug Good Feather is committed to sharing Indigenous wisdom and practices with non-native audiences as a way to help and to heal humanity. He writes that no matter what our circumstances, gratitude is available to us:  

Each and every morning offers us a chance to start anew, fresh, and to begin again. Each morning when we wake—should we choose to listen—is a message from the Creator to remember the privilege we were given of waking up. It’s a reminder to get up and prepare our self, to honor our self, to go out into the world, to connect with Mother Earth and the hearts of other beings, to inspire and encourage those who cross our paths, and most importantly, to enjoy life. 

Good Feather highlights the Indigenous virtues of gratitude and generosity:
Gratitude and generosity are similar virtues, but they differ in that gratitude is an internal characteristic and generosity is our external expression of our sense of gratitude. Basically, gratitude is how we feel, and generosity is how we express that feeling out in the world...

When we engage with the world from a place of gratitude, it’s the difference between trying to make something happen and allowing something to happen. The defining difference between effort and effortlessness is the virtue of gratitude. We see the quotes and memes from the sages and gurus that talk about gratitude. But why is gratitude such a core concept of joy, contentment, and well-being in our life? The ancestors tell us there are two primary reasons. The first is that a person cannot exist in a place of fear and true gratitude at the same time. The second is that gratitude is the doorway to divine intuition, which allows us to be guided by our connection with the Creator.

Gratitude moves stagnant energy when we’re feeling stuck in life. The simple act of practicing gratitude disrupts negative thoughts and changes our mindset to see the world in a positive way. Not only are we more attractive to others when we live in gratitude, but the most ordinary things can become extraordinary, creating a fuller, more beautiful expression of our life.

You’ve probably heard the old saying, “Things don’t happen to us, they happen for us.” Gratitude is the foundation of that adage. It means that our mindset has to be that the universe is generally conspiring and working in our favor. Frequently, when something that we perceive as “bad” happens to us, we let it affect us in a highly negative way. But if we interact with the world from a place of gratitude, when something happens that others may perceive as “bad,” we just see that experience as “interesting.” We are curious about why something happens the way it does, and in expressing that curiosity, we’re actively seeking the part of the experience that we’re grateful for."

 Today let us pray with grateful hearts for what we still need and for the blessings that already surround us.

Generous God, thank you
for the wondrous life
you have given me.
For even in the struggle,
grace abounds.
Even in the hard times,
I see evidence
of your hand.
Thank you for my loved ones
who bring my life
joy and connection.
Thank you for meaningful work
through which I can serve others.
Thank you for the home
of this earth
and the way it awes
and comforts me.
I revel in your goodness today.

Photo by Gabrielle Henderson on Unsplash