Beliefnet
The Bliss Blog

worldgratitudeday

 

Gratitude is something that I experience and express all throughout my day. Growing up, my parents would remind my sister and me to say  ‘thank you’ whenever something was given to us. Back then, it felt like a formality, rather than something that I internalized as an acknowledgement of blessings.  These days, it just as vital as water and air. When I am in place of grump and growl in my mind, I dose myself with Vitamin G for gratitude that is the perfect antidote.

I’ve heard two versions of the  birth of this holiday. The first was that in 1965 at a Thanksgiving dinner held at the International East-West Center in Hawaii folks decided to focus on the blessings in their lives and the second was in 1977, the United Nations created World Gratitude Day as a means of acknowledging the good in the world, since it seems so easy to focus on the tragedies and traumas. Imagine the world immersed in, doused in, painted with and dipped in gratitude.

My gratitude list grows daily. At the moment, it includes:

Writing this blog entry

YOU for reading it!

Listening to my favorite radio station WXPN 88.5 in Philly

A body that is healthier and stronger every day

A willingness to fully feel my emotions for the first time in my life, even if it isn’t always much fun

Dear ones who have been with me as I ride those waves

Play time with friends

Healing of my knee that had me hobbling for a few weeks

Financial abundance that keeps flowing in steadily

My beautiful house that is filled with love

A well running Jeep that gets me where I need to go

Creative imagination that allows me to paint word pictures

My son’s growing happiness with all aspects of his life

Playouts at the gym

Spiritual connection that never shorts out

Enlarging the overlapping soul circles by meeting new friends daily

And in advance, welcoming the love of my life…

So It IS!

 

What’s on your gratitude list?

http://youtu.be/DnBKRcdgwos  Thank You by Alanis Morisette

 

 

 

 

“When we surrender to God, we surrender to something bigger than ourselves — to a universe that knows what it’s doing. When we stop trying to control events, they fall into a natural order, an order that works. We’re at rest which a power much greater than our own takes over, and it does a much better job than we could have done. We learn to trust that the power that holds galaxies together can handle the circumstances of our relatively little lives.”-Marianne Williamson from A Return To Love

I’ve come to believe that we live in an ordered Universe, despite the chaotic costume it wears at times. What may pass as having the rug pulled out from under us may really be preparing us for a brand new rug that is cleaner, fluffier and far more beautiful than the one we have become accustomed to; like the iridescent green shag model, circa 1968 that we couldn’t bear to part with since it has history. My friend Peter says that his “shakeups are his wakeups.” that  I sense open his eyes to what may have been right in front of him all along or what might be on the horizon that he might otherwise have missed. Do I ever know that one?! In my life, I have faced the reality that despite my goal setting, dream weaving, seed planting each day, the power paradoxically comes in letting go of the expectation of any particular outcome. How frustrating that can be and yet, ultimately how rewarding. When I consider the meandering path my life has taken, that include certain desires for jobs, relationships, opportunities and experiences, I am amazed since after the initial disappointment that I hadn’t ‘fished my wish’, I can settle in (not settle for) with what or who did show up; more than satisfied with the outcome. I often wonder why I was given the desire for something or someone, only to have the story change mid stream. Perhaps those were hints along the way, little nibbles of delight, samples of what something could feel like in preparation for the total package to show up. Over and over, I hear God/dess ask “Have I ever dropped you? Has anything not turned out even better than you, with your grand and vivid imagination could have conjured up?” I have to sigh and surrender and say “No, of course not. I’m just feeling impatient.”

and then I receive what seems like contradictory messages. I subscribe to TUT-Notes From The Universe and today’s missive said:

 

Don’t ask me why, Edie, but sometimes you just have to ask for what you want, twice.
Who? Who?     The Universe

Maybe it’s because the first time you asked, Edie, you were distracted, weren’t
sure, or just scared?  www.tut.com

 

followed by Neale Donald Walsch’s sharing:

On this day of your life, Edie, I believe God wants you to know…

…that nothing has to happen immediately, this minute, or “right now.”

It’s okay to pause for just a moment. Just take a breath.

Then go quietly inside. Ask Life Itself to lead you to your best outcome.

There’s nothing you have to do, really, except get out of your own way…. know what I mean?

www.nealedonaldwalsch.com

What if both are equally true? What if  desire and asking are just ways of honing the instrument, of staying in tune, of remembering to stay alive to the feeling of having what it is I say I want rather than being complacent and saying ‘whatever’ to the Universe?  On this day, I am choosing to be alert, enlivened and ready to embrace whatever and whomever shows up, special delivered by a generous Spiritual Supply Service.

 

“When I imagine myself as an old woman at the end of my life & ask myself how I will evaluate my time here, there is only one question: Did I love well? There are a thousand ways to love another & the world- with our touch, our words, our silences, our work, our presence. I want to love well. This is my hunger. I want to make love to the world by the way I live in it, by the way I am with myself &… others every day. So I seek to increase my ability to be with the truth in each moment, to be with what I know, the sweet & the sorrowful. . . . .And sometimes, I allow myself to imagine that each moment in which we love well by simply being all of who we are & being fully present allows us to give back something essential to the Sacred Mystery that sustains all life.” ~ Oriah from THE INVITATION
These words were penned by my friend Oriah Mountain Dreamer whose landmark poem, the Invitation continues to touch hearts 14 years after its release. It leapt out at me today from the computer screen and linked arms with another posting I read that  posed the question “How do you want to be remembered?” My immediate answer was that when my bones are dedicated to the Earth, I want people to say that in my presence (literal or symbolic) they came away certain that they were loved. Being human (just confessing that these days, shedding the skin of the alien species that I thought I was since birth), my intentions don’t always match up with my actions, to which my son can vouch. I do sometimes use words that are not in my spiritual vocabulary and I do sometimes forget that not everyone (once again, ask my son:) meets my expectations, nor are they supposed to. Sure it would be easier if everyone did things ‘my way’, but being human themselves with their own needs and desires, it just ain’t gonna happen. And so I am learning to release expectations of how I want people to respond and just let be what is.
Not intending to sound morbid or overly somber, but I have lately been acutely aware that life happens at such a pace, and people come and go so quickly that I want to be mindful that each moment is precious and will never be seen again and that each person is of value and we never know when they will take their last breath.
How do people know that I love them? It used to be that I would at least attempt to meet their needs even before they asked, sometimes even before they knew what they were. I have come to put those behaviors in the recovering co-dependent basket and re-examine my motives. These days, demonstrations of love are far more clean and above board and involve being present as able when someone needs a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, a pick my brain (whatever is left of it) session to gather resources, a compliment on something they did or said, an ‘atta girl’ or ‘atta boy’ to encourage them, hugs, hugs, hugs (one of my favorite ways), an unexpected “I’m thinking about you,” call or message, a ‘you matter to me and here’s why’ out loud statement since we all sometimes forget. I never want words of love to be left unsaid.
When you come to the end of your earthly existence, how do you want to be remembered?
http://youtu.be/14nD-QMjFvI Love Song by Elton John
The excerpt By Oriah © Mountain Dreaming,
from the book The Invitation
published by HarperONE, San Francisco,
1999 All rights reserved

I live a full, rich life, overflowing with love, family, friends, opportunities to stretch and grow as well as miracles too numerous to name; but name them I attempt to do each day. Over the weekend, I had so many chances to acknowledge them. They included shared meals and shared hearts with loved ones; some I have known since my teens, others just recently met and still others somewhere in between. Witnessing the generosity of my friend Patricia Gallagher who now has two aliases” The Angel Pin Lady” and “The Flower Lady” who I will write about in greater length, as she delivers flowers to nursing home residents; sometimes with her mother and sometimes with another of our  friends: Bob Goodwin.

 

They pick up the posies at Trader Joe’s who donate them and off they go to scatter joy. I had the pleasure of meeting up with them for lunch on Friday and could feel the glow emanating off the bouquets that would soon spread smiles across elders’ faces.

 

Healing takes place on all levels, some simply by recognition of how far we have traveled to get from where we were to where we desire to be as we see all of the stops we have made along the way . That occurred several times in the past 72 hours as I came to see how my choices have brought me to where I am at this moment in time; some conscious and others by default.   Questions I ask are: did I plan the journey myself; whether before taking this form, along the way OR was it mapped up by the Celestial Cartographer? Some interactions seem too ‘beshert’ (‘meant to be’ in Yiddish) to be random. Some I see in my mind before they occur and I wonder if they play out as I have seen them because I envisioned them or I envision them because they have already ‘occurred’ on some level and my body is catching up with them. I know we all have the capacity to create from our heart’s desires, so I ponder why this even surprises me a bit. Diving down, raw and real revelatory conversations occurred that clear the way for even greater discovery and deeper love.

Saturday was Yom Kippur and I ventured out to Peace Valley Park in Doylestown, PA, which is a sanctuary of sorts for me. I went there to  fast, pray, meditate and write. I  carried a large cloth that came into my life more than 3 years ago when I was captured by its Celtic knot design and knew I had to bring it home with me. It has served many purposes and has attended music festivals, been a tapestry on my wall, draped across my sofa,  been wrapped around for warmth and been a bed spread. On that day, it became a ritual cloth. I also toted along a journal given to me as a birthday gift from a dear friend 2 years ago, with the words “Believe in yourself” inscribed on the cover,  and it is nearly filled with my mental meanderings; but room enough for ponderings that arose. Lastly, there were mala beads that became a tool for a ritual that I began offering a few years ago, that sends my heart soaring when I engage in it now. I ran each of the 108 beads through my fingers and brought  to mind the name and face of a person who has made a difference in my life; some for the love that we share(d) and others for lessons learned, even if they were painful. Two years ago, I went around twice and on this day, it was four times, which equals 416 souls I have encountered who have touched my life. Even now, more come to mind and I feel blessed to have known them. Lately I have become acutely aware of the fleeting nature of life. From one moment to the next, we have no clue what will happen or who will be in physical form on any given day. That may seem maudlin or morbid, but for me, it has become an in-my-face reality that has me treasure the people I know all the more.

That night I broke the fast at the home of my friends Barb and Glenn Cohen. She has been my best friend since we were 14 and met on the bench at a swim meet. Even though our teams were competing against each other, clearly the Universe had been conspiring for us to be in cooperation. In the midst of story telling, laughter, hugs and waaaaayyyy too much food, I was pleasantly satisfied when I meandered home appreciating the starlit ride.

Headed south  on Sunday morning to stand before a gathering of  recently met friends whose welcoming hugs greeted me at Awakened Heart Spiritual Center in Arden, DE. It is a new thought church, whose principles emerge from the teachings of Ernest Holmes. I spoke on the subject Beneath The Mask and the ways in which we hide behind a façade out of fear of revealing the truth of who we are. Knowing nods had me feeling like I’m not alone in the on again/off again, peeling off the layers and adding them back on out of a belief that I can’t bare it all.

A few hours later, I was at yet another spiritual community that has been part of my life since 1984. Pebble Hill Church is an interfaith peace site that welcomes folks from all walks of life and on this day, held a Peace Vigil. Speakers shared their insights on ways to create a more cooperative and accepting planet. I offered insights on the subject of forgiveness and my desire to have ‘thoughts that do no violence to my soul.’  Songs wafted through the air and I gained a greater appreciation for the folks gathered there, some I have know for more than half my life. Gary and Jennifer Culp were among the first people with whom I connected when I entered the sanctuary of the Red Barn 29 years ago around this time of year.  As I gazed over at them, I felt a warmth and an appreciation for who they have been in my life. They truly live their peace.

The whirlwind weekend came to a close around the table at China Wok as 1o of us came together to celebrate the birthday of our friend Ken Kaplan. My favorite way of enjoying Chinese food, as shared dishes made their way around via a Lazy Susan, and laughter and love spiced the dishes.

Photo

Even now, hours later, I bask in the glow of the sweet souls whose presence enrich my life immeasurably and simultaneously experience a beautiful ache; an appreciation for what I have and an accompanying sadness for those who feel alone. Paradoxically, I feel an existential loneliness even in the midst of such exquisite love.