Unity of Monroe
Unleash Your Divine Potential: Gratefulness
November 5, 2017
It seems a foursome of senior golfers hit the course with waning enthusiasm for the sport. The first one commented, "These fairways seem to be getting longer and longer." "And these hills are getting steeper as the years go by," another complained. The third senior golfer vented, "The sand traps seem to be bigger than I remember them, too." After hearing enough from his buddies, the oldest, and the wisest of the four of them at 87 years old, piped up and said, "Oh hush my friends, just be grateful we're still on this side of the grass!"
When you get right down to it Gratefulness is all about our perspective on things and what a wonderful time of the year it is to take time out in purposeful, perspective-filled moments of Gratefulness. Gratefulness has been called an art form of not only how we see things but how we feel about life and the intentions we set. In these last 8 weeks of the year what better time than to give thanks for the blessings of love, of peace, of divine order that this year has shown us and to set our heart aright for learning to practice Gratefulness each day. We continue our yearlong theme the first Sunday - Unleash Your Divine Potential - as we fully integrate the idea of Gratefulness. Nothing unleashes our divine potential better than being a being of Gratefulness. With Thanksgiving fast approaching, as I like to say about all of these special days we observe during the year like Thanksgiving, Valentine's Day, Christmas, they may come but once a year, but to the awakened soul it comes as frequently as the heart will allow. So, as we approach this day and tomorrow and the next we set our intention to be one of a GREAT-FULLNESS in our heart and mind.
To have a GREAT-FULLNESS in our heart and mind means we practice the art of Gratefulness. A heart that practices and appreciates Gratefulness is FULL of the GREAT THINGS of Life. Like from the writings of Brother David Steindl-Rast, Catholic monk and author, who has contributed such a great dialogue to the world on Gratefulness. Brother David writes, “You think this is just another day in your life? It’s not just another day. It’s the one day that is given to you today. It’s given to you. It’s a gift. It’s the only gift you have right now, and the only appropriate response is gratefulness.” Others teach that with every fiber of our being as it is cultivated, we experience an increase in our "Empathetic Joy," our happiness at anothers happiness, our joy as we celebrate another for whatever reason. Just as in the cultivation of compassion, we may feel the pain of others, so we may begin to feel their joy as well. Here’s one of the clues we can find to see if we are actually practicing Gratefulness.
Ask yourself, do I celebrate and revel in the joy of other people’s lives and what they accomplish and achieve? Do I really celebrate when someone hits it big or wins Wheel of Fortune? Well, maybe if that person is related to me or a good friend but what about someone you don’t know or that cousin or aunt or uncle that always seems to fall into riches or when we hear those stories of what some call “dumb luck” and someone falling into money or winning the lottery. Growing up I had an Aunt named Ruth who always seemed to accumulate money by winning contests and scrabble tournaments she participated in. I thought she was the richest person I would ever know because she was always able to afford many trips around the world and nice clothes. I came to find out at about 12 or 13 when my brother Ron turned 18, he received a gift that my Aunt had bought her niece and nephews when they were born - a $100. Savings Bond - ALL EXCEPT ME. I guess because I was the youngest she either didn’t have the money then or she forgot or she didn’t like that my mom had a third boy instead of another niece she could help raise, like my cousin Janice. Well, being a 12 year old and finding this out didn’t set well with me especially when my aunt and cousin took another trip to the Holy Land and so I chose not to celebrate their good fortune but rather to be angry at her because I felt excluded. It took me sometime to come to terms with that.
I came to find out through the years that the more I bind up in my mind and heart over someone else’s, “he gets all the breaks,” or “why is she so lucky in everything” attitude, the more I bind up the flow of Infinite blessings in my life. The more I loose and celebrate the joy of others the more I find myself in the flow of abundance. Why then does this matter? Well, when we look at what the differences are between the laws that govern the mind are from the laws that operate in the physical world we see its impact in consciousness. For instance, in the world, if I intend to give a physical thing to you or anyone, whether it be a toy or a diamond, it may get lost. Yet in the mind, the opposite is true. Whatever we intend for another person we experience ourselves, whatever we give, we gain, whatever we offer flowers in our own mind. If I feel envy or jealousy toward someone, that energy boomerangs back and affects my own mind. On the other hand, if we offer GRATEFULNESS or love to someone, that attitude first fills and heals our mind. Once this is understood, the desire to be envious and feel hurt starts to shrink, while the desire to feel and express Gratefulness as love and help begins to flourish. The words "As you give so shall you receive" are profound statements about the way our mind works. This is the basis of the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi: “Grant that I may not so much seek to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive.”
Gratefulness or being mindful of every part of life, is an awareness practice and a way of training, deepening, and directing our attention. The point is not to become an expert in grateful living like never wavering from a grateful outlook but to recognize that gratefulness can offer us a “touchstone” for life (especially in difficult times) where we can return our awareness again and again to shift or expand our perspective. Like other forms of practice, Gratefulness makes us more resilient and flexible, and also offers a way to frame and learn from everything that unfolds in our lives. Through practicing over time, we become increasingly able to recognize the opportunity in every moment. Practice helps us to deliver on presence, and being present leads to so much else that is beneficial. Gratefulness isn't just about the words we speak. The example of Jesus’ words in all things were not just his words giving thanks in advance but they also represented the feelings in His heart. Empty words we might say that are not connected to our feeling nature is like trying to fill a hole-filled bucket with water - it doesn’t hold, it just empties out. Like Jesus, when we give thanks the feeling and emotional aspect is the KNOWING deep within that this is already taking place. It is an inner knowing that we truly are not just thankful but thoughtful.
The feeling of Gratefulness is an emotion, a visceral reaction, and not just a thought-idea. Mary Alice and Richard Jafolla, authors of The Quest and former directors of Silent Unity write about how we often only intellectualize our Gratefulness. We may even make lists of things we’re grateful for or make a Gratitude Journal which is good when they lead us into that FEELING of Gratefulness. But, according to the Jafollas, those lists and intellectual realizations are only going to take us so far. As they write, “We need the feeling, the inner fullness of a grateful heart in order to tap that power within us. ...strong emotions will overpower an intellectual idea virtually every time. Feelings activate the powers which make the changes and do the work. Feelings are the catalyst and the sustaining fuel of our actions. When feelings cease, action ceases.” For instance, the other day I had a mind-idea that I need to go to the Y and get my exercise in yet checking with how I felt, physically, mentally I couldn’t even seem to get up the energy to get my workout clothes together and pretend I was going. My mind was willing but my flesh was not feeling it.
As the Jafollas say, it is up to each of us, it is our responsibility to ignite Gratefulness within. There is nothing anyone can give us, or anything we can take in from outside of Self. Yes, we may be feeling ungrateful because of a present challenge, but deep within us that represents the seeds of faith and hope and Gratefulness, that are waiting to be harvested in our consciousness, a harvest that shares and feasts on the bounty of Gratefulness habits. In this season of harvest we too can bring forth the greater bounty of good through seeing and knowing that we can express Gratefulness even in the most trying of times. One of the things my family and I like to do from time to time when we’re sitting around sharing a meal is to play the ABC game, like the ABC’s of songs we know or countries, movies or food. For example, if the category is food it’s A - Apple, B Bananas, C - Corn. Well, one practice that we can use when we are waiting on something to happen, like sitting around or beginning or ending our day is to do the ABCs of Gratefulness. ABC then can stand for Always Be Conscious. Always Be Conscious of each moment as a blessing so right now take a moment to think about your own ABC’s of Gratefulness. It could be as simple as A is Abundance of the season or in your life, B for Beauty all around and within, C for Calmness and Serenity as you take on this day. Take a moment to practice the ABC’s of Gratefulness in your own mind and see it as a new practice on Gratefulness.
What might we discover in this and other Gratefulness practices when we only experience the GREAT-FULLNESS of life expressing GRATEFULNESS? The possibilities are unlimited as is our Divine Potential. Am I ready to embrace this Gratefulness Consciousness today, this month, the rest of the year? Am I willing to on all levels see life differently, with reverence to all things we may be growing through? The power of Gratefulness is not just about being grateful for those good things that come to us and through us, it is about how we deal with those other moments so we can say, I AM GRATEFUL AS I LET MY HEART REVEAL WHAT IT MEANS TO ME.
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