As I think about the books I've been reading lately, which subjects include the structure of water, doctrine of yoga, natural healing, homeschooling, an autobiography, etc., I find two common themes in them all: gratitude and love. I think these two words must be the greatest of all. In fact, we've just recently implemented our Sunday night family prayer as a gratitude prayer and we just say things we are grateful for. This is Ethan's favorite prayer time of the whole week...especially when we say it popcorn style. Heh.
So let me share my thoughts that led to this decision and about why gratitude is so important....
I am reminded of two important scriptures:
1. This is the greatest commandment, to love The Lord thy God with all thine heart, might, mind and strength. And the second is like Unto to it; to love others as thyself.
First off...if we love God with our ALL, then we acknowledge His character/divine attributes (omniscient, omnipresent, all merciful and loving, unchanging, just, etc.) and trust those attributes wholly. This means we are humble. We bend our will to his to show that trust. We gratefully acknowledge him in our life and seek to act on his words/truth. If we love him, we love his words and we act on them with purely honest motives.
So...let me share with you a beautiful word I have introduced to Ethan. On the mornings that we do yoga (which is basically Ethan mimicking objects and animals and thinking it is great fun) we always say this special word: namaste.
Namaste. It means, "my spirit greets your spirit." Why is this so beautiful? Well, I love that this one word summarizes an eternal perspective on our individual makeup. We are spirit beings having a mortal experience. We aren't just little peons trying to take baby steps into becoming an adult. Our spirits are eternal and we are trying to uncover that divine within us that is already there. So when we can acknowledge others spirits with our spirit we are in essence saying "you're amazing. It's an honor to be with you."
Isn't that real gratitude? A celebration of each individual and their gifts? And that last part is an important part: acknowledging both the giver and the gift. I think our society has limited gratitude to mere words "thank you," but it is so much more than that.
BTW, I know i have been guilty of not being super grateful, and honestly, i am just coming to an awareness of the power of a heart filled with profound gratitude. I hope to change and develop this essential attribute more, so i ask for patience as i try. But I am finding that real gratitude comes most easily when we keep this eternal perspective in our minds and don't limit our perspective (judge others) with physical, emotional or intellectual earthly limitations on eternal spiritual beings.
So, let me share a few other words I feel are related to gratitude:
to acknowledge, show appreciation for, give attention to, thank, accept an offering, to reciprocate, etc. (can you think of others?)
Now, with those other words in mind, let me share an example of how gratitude might express itself during a typical day....
Action/moment: Wake up.
Gratitude: a simple prayer-thought...It's a beautiful day and I slept we'll.
Giver: God, the creator of heaven and earth.
Gratitude: Formal prayer or blessing on the food.
Giver: God, the supplier of all our needs. The sustainer.
Action/moment: children--playing in the family room or trying to talk to you.
Gratitude: making time to take them one by one and giving them your full attention--stare them in the eyes and hold their hands. Tell them how special they are and acknowledge a divine attribute within them. Give a little hug.
Giver: the child gives you who they are on a daily basis. This may seem a passive giving of a gift, but nonetheless it is a reality that they give effort in saying hi to you or showing you something they are proud of, and acknolwedging that effort is showing gratitude for it, for who they are. That is important to remember and cultivate those good eternal attributes. We just have to weed out the earthly influences and temperaments that try to cover up their eternal identity they are trying to unearth. And as we focus on their positive attributes, the negatives lose sway.
Action/moment: going for a walk
Gratitude: wanting to capture nature' beauty by drawing it or writing a poem
Giver: God. Again, the creator of all things.
Action/moment: friend calls on the phone
Gratitude: answering with a heart happy to hear, ready to listen. Acknowledge the person before talking about tasks. Think about their spirit and deeper needs.
Action/moment: Husband: home from work
Gratitude: hug and genuine "tell me about your day" before rattling off about my day. Sit with undivided attention and try to see his day from his point of view. Acknowledge his frustrations with words or body language.
Action/moment: studying scriptures
Gratitude: taking. Moment to write down thoughts that stand out and to reflect and or pray for deeper understanding/relevance
Giver: God, the giver of truth and light. The revealer of our potential.
These are just a few examples in a day, but they all take effort. Gratitude involves giving of self. It is an offering, a sacrifice. And your offerings will always be filled in greater measure than what you gave, by one who sustains us as we serve others. He is the source of living water--which quenches our thirst and fills all our needs.
....and now, after all that, here's the second scripture...
2. ...Praise Him through grace.
How do you praise god through grace, which is something that only he can offer? I'll tell you how: qualify for grace. As we make effort to sincerely express love and gratitude with pure motives (expecting nothing in return and free from judgments) he can't help but bless us in return with good things and pour down his spirit and grace upon us. He fills our life with light, truth, joy as we joyfully live in his light and truth.
And then there this other scripture: 'this better to give than to receive. Could this be because as we give we receive even more? Our effort to show gratitude fills us with love and therefore we are more grateful and loving. Wow. What a joyful cycle we shouldn't mind getting caught in. Don't you think?
And it all starts with having gratitude. So how are you going to show your gratitude in each day of your life? In each of your roles? What are you willing to offer Him in return for pure Joy and love?
If our pure motive is to love God above all else and put him first in all things (above worldly priorities, earthly worries, physical concerns, social pressures, etc) then everything we do will be defined by that love. We won't teach, command, talk to others in terms of force, guilt, fear, pity; but rather we will listen, counsel, accept in open and honest offerings of love and gratitude.
May our hearts be full of thanks, our hands willing to help, our mouths ready to uplift, our ears ever attentive, our eyes seeking earnestly and our minds quietly still and ever focused, as we pray earnestly for charity--the pure love of Christ--to fill our hearts so that we can have the discernment, faith and discipline to give our attention to and acceptance of all things and people--great and small.
Let us have a gratitude attitude toward all givers of good gifts. Rejoicing in all things and knowing that everything good comes from the Ultimate Giver of Good gifts.