Everyday Spirituality

Posts tagged ‘gratitude’

Cornucopia of Blessings

Here we are at the threshold of Thanksgiving 2012.

This year I can honestly say has been a cornucopia of reasons to be thankful.

For the few years of my teaching carreer I not only taught all of the academic subjects I was also the art teacher. Well in reality it was more like time for creating and assembling craft projects. At Thanksgiving we would usually create our Cornucopia of colorful fruits and vegetables. This ‘horn of plenty’ was to appear to be too small to hold the abundane of fruits and vegetables. They were always pictured as spilling out of the horn onto the table top.

So many things can be learned from this simple cornucopia. The fruits and vegetables overlap one on top of the other…sometimes one blessing can partially obsecure another one. At times we are so preoccupied with what is easily seen when there is another blessing just out of sight.

Today if I were to be taken back in time to my former third grade classroom I would have them cut out the colorful fruit but I would also have them write on each piece something they were thankful for.

The cornucopia symbolizies aboundance. As I look back on this year I know I have been abundantly blessed. I know I have many things to be thankful for. I also know that some of those blessings in my life have been like the sour lemon. I know that some of my blessings have been like a pineapple…prickly on the outside but juicy and sweet on the inside.

A cornucopia gives the feeling that there is no end to what can pour out of the opening. You can not see inside as it tapers to a point. Which makes me think about the blessings I have received that could easily been overlooked…to tiny…too insignificant…not important…but blessings none the less.

This horn of plenty has became a staple for Thanksgiving decorations.

In Greek mythology, Amalthea raised Zeus on the milk of a goat. In return Zeus gave Amalthea the goat’s horn. It had the power to give to the person in possession of it whatever he or she wished for. The Cornucopia came to symbolize the unasked profusion of gifts from the gods.This gave rise to the legend of the cornucopia we believe today.

Well that does make for a nice story, but if you are thankful and express your gratitude to others you will be spreading abundant goodness out to others. If you express gratitude when it is unexpected by the other person it will be your gift to them.

The fruits and vegetables are crowded together in this horn of plenty yet they each retain their true form and properties…just as for the many blessings in our life remain unique for us.

The many blessings I have experienced this year in my life have been just like a cornucopia…all shapes sizes, different textures, some more obvious than others. 2012 has been a year filled with more blessings than I could have imagined and some I have yet to discover in the weeks ahead.

Many of you who are faithful readers of this blog are among the many blessings I have experienced this year.

Please know that I treasure the many gifts that pour forth from the cornucopia of my life.

The horn of plenty makes its own music for the heart…a symphony of thankfulness.

May you experience abundant blessings each day of your life.

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~ Importance of Forgiveness ~

This weekend as we reflect on the attack of 9-11-2001, I think it might be good to call to mind the importance of forgiveness in our life.

That fateful morning we were all going about our normal daily routine…people were commuting to their jobs, children were returning to school…some were traveling on business trips…some were reporting to their public service jobs. No one knew that morning how drastically life in this country would be changed.

Many people faced their death that day with little or no time to prepare or hear the voices of their loved ones one last time. Many were thrust into life or death decisions. Many had choices to help themselves or to help others.

There is no greater love than to lay down your life…John 15:13

Countless numbers of families lost loved ones that day with no opportunity for closure. Many lost loved ones without the chance to say what needed to be said. Families and communities were torn apart. Children lost their parents. Spouses lost their partners. Parents lost their children. The list of losses goes on and on.

First responders put their fears and concerns last and entered what was to become their tombs.

~Forgiveness aids Healing~

We all watched in horror as the twin towers billowed smoke and ultimately crumbled to the ground before our very eyes. The earliest reports suggested a terrorist attack which; ultimately were confirmed to our greatest sadness. Fear surged throughout our country; as a community and as individuals we were ripped open.

~Forgiveness restores Peace~

As the morning unfolded two more airlines crashed; one into the Pentagon building the other in a field in an open field…

In the following days each individual person, whether directly or indirectly, had a choice to make forgiveness or anger and hatred their guiding force.

~Forgiveness neutralizes Resentment~

It takes great courage to forgive. It is not an easy decision to make. I know of cases where a loved one’s death has caused great sorrow because of the inability to forgive.

There is abundant research supporting the benefits of forgiveness. Our mental, physical, and spiritual wellbeing is directly affected by our capacity to forgive. Harboring anger and resentment within is like embedding a heavy anchor permanently within your soul.

Forgive your neighbor’s injustice; then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven… Could anyone nourish anger against another and expect healing from the LORD? Sirach 28:2-3

Forgiveness is like releasing a caged bird; allowing it to fly free into the air. Forgiveness is the gift of mercy and love when it appears to be most undeserved. Forgiveness is like rebirthing your own soul. Forgiveness confirms that goodness is bigger than wrongdoing and evil. Forgiveness is like planting flowers in a barren desert.

~The Forgiveness Mandala~

 

I invite you now to use the forgiveness formula below to begin or continue your healing process through forgiveness. Place the name of the person, institution, community, or your own name on the blank line. Continue by reading the rest of the paragraph. I did not write this but I hope you find it to be helpful.

________________, I now understand why you behaved the way you did and I am sorry that you are so filled with pain that you feel you must inflict it on others in order to regain your own power. I refuse; however, to let you hurt me anymore. I am choosing to let go of the pain you have caused me, for my own sake. I realize that letting go of this pain does not minimize or condone your bad behavior. It does, however, validate my own worth as a person and my right to finally be free of your abuse. I am choosing to take back my personal power so that I may heal. I now release all the hurtful emotions I feel regarding your behavior. I am now free to heal and move on.

 

“Please forgive me,”  “I forgive you,” “Thank you,” and “I love you.”

…Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us…

~Gratitude and Forgiveness~

Joined together create the best of who we are called to become.

 

May your life be surrounded with gratitude and grounded with forgiveness.

 

Gratitude and Abundance

This week I watched an interview clip of a popular vocalist commenting on her successful life as an entertainer. Through her tears she was reflecting on the question of ‘why’? Why had God given her talent and a voice that others enjoyed so much? Within her acknowledged abundance she took a moment to give thanks to God and to show her appreciation for what he had given her.

In contrast, I recently spoke with a woman who had returned from a mission trip to a poor area in Guatemala. She was so touched by the generosity of the local villagers. They had so little by our standards but so much appreciation and gratitude for even the mere presence of the missionaries in their village.

Sometimes in our life we blindly take things for granted and in this state of mind gratitude and appreciation become diluted. They become camouflaged.  When we live in the land of ‘milk and honey’ day in and day out appreciation disappears as if obscured in a heavy fog.

Is it true that the more abundance you have in your life the less thankful you are…I wonder? Do you feel “entitled” to live where you want, have the house you want, drive the car you want?

What would you be able to appreciate if it all disappeared tomorrow morning?

Would you struggle to be grateful or would you sink into the quicksand of resentment and anger?

I pray that I would have the strength to continue to be grateful in the face of heart break and pain. I had this strength demonstrated to me when I had the blessing of meeting Mary. (Not her real name) Just six months ago she lost all of her belongs in a house fire. This devastating tragedy also claimed the life of her husband. I was so touched by the way this woman expressed her gratitude for what she had left in her life.

In my abundance of life, health, friends, family, community, faith, and love; I still miss opportunities to be more mindful.

Do not let abundance in your life disguise the many opportunities to express your gratitude and appreciation.

St. Paul tells in his first letter to the Thessalonians 5:18,

“In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.”

Together let us give thanks to God: his love is everlasting and

he is “especially fond” of you.

With Grateful Hearts…

With Gratitude

                                    If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, “thank you,” that  would suffice.  Meister Eckhart

I am deeply grateful for our five senses; such incredible gifts from God. Our senses connect us to everything in our environment, whether living or non-living, in a unique way.

~Sight~

I am grateful for: the smile of a child…the colors of a rainbow…leaves…cardinals in flight…goldfish in the pond…nighttime sky…the new crescent moon…brilliant sunsets…glowing embers…flickering candlelight…delicate butterfly wings…waterfalls…words to read…rising bubbles…sparkling diamonds…fireworks and sparklers…old photographs… twinkling Christmas lights… traffic lights…graceful dancing…the American flag…corrective lens…

~Hearing~

I am grateful for: children laughing…tears of joy…purring kittens…train whistles…live music…frogs croaking…corn popping…bells ringing…monks chanting…words of love…crashing waves…water fountains…Christmas songs…barking dogs…clicking seat belts…ringing phones…chiming clocks…embryonic heartbeats…gentle rain…sirens…

~Smell~

I am grateful  for: fresh linens…coffee brewing…evergreen trees…red roses…baby powder…incense burning…chicken frying…forest air…bacon…BBQ smoking…perfume…chrism oil…leather…scented candles…apple pie…fresh cut grass…

~Touch~

I am grateful for: baby’s tender skin…powder puffs…warm showers…pedicures…massages…furry pets…hugs…kisses…bath oil…cotton candy…down comforters…our waterbed…cool breezes…summer sunshine…comfortable shoes…hands, fingers, and toes…snowflakes…teddy bears…ear muffs…soft pillows…

~Taste~

I am grateful for: crunchy Cheetos…marshmallows…onions…dark chocolate…peppermint ice cream…balsamic vinegar…crisp bacon…French fries…warm chocolate chip cookies…hot coffee…cool whip…egg drop soup…juicy strawberries…grandmother’s Pound cake…salt…steaming hot chocolate…fresh water…

These are just a few of the many things I am grateful for today…

Create your personal gratitude journal or litany of thanks.

God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today.  Have you used one to say “thank you?” 

William A. Ward