uealse Thanksgiving or Gratitude? - Dr. Dina Evan's Columns

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Thanksgiving or Gratitude?

We all know the meaning of Thanksgiving. We don’t need to hear it again, and yet, if we were to stretch our minds we might get curious about this concept of gratitude itself. It’s suggested that we all feel it on November 25th and many of us will indeed be grateful for that painstakingly prepared, delicious meal and the opportunity to gather with loved ones. But are we so bereft of gratitude and thanks giving that we need to set aside a day on November 25th to remember it?

Consider the concept of prayer, the asking and the thanking God for the gift He, She or It, depending upon your perspective, bestows upon us. It seems to me these rituals create yet another sense of separation and foster a lack of gratitude rather than empower it. In this sense, gratitude usually becomes the thing we feel after we have asked for and gotten a prayer answered – now and then.

Isn’t real gratitude something you feel all the time? And if it is, how can one best express gratitude for this life and all that it provides for us? It seems to me, the words gratitude and grace are synonymous. Albert Schweitzer said. “You must learn to understand the secret of gratitude. It is more than just so-called virtue. It is revealed to you as a mysterious law of existence.” In other words, it’s how you live your life.

Brother David Steindl Rast says, “We grow in love when we grow in gratefulness. And we grow in gratefulness when we grow in love. Here is the link between the two: thanksgiving pivots on our willingness to go beyond our independence and to accept the give-and-take between giver and thanks giver. But the “yes” which acknowledges our interdependence is the very “yes” to belonging, the “yes” of love. Every time we say a simple “thank you,” and mean it, we practice that inner gesture of “yes.” And the more we practice it the easier it becomes. “ Feeling gratitude and thanksgiving are in essence the act of saying YES to life.

Yes, to loving fully and without limit. Yes, to having a grace-filled life of comfort serenity. Yes, to spiritual growth, personal responsibility and waking up. Yes, to acknowledging the value and right of every human being to exist in safety and peace. Yes, to the equality of every individual. Yes to joy and abundance. Yes to aliveness and all things that support us on our path to enlightenment. Yes to life itself.

This Thanksgiving, consider the level of your yes-ness to life. Are you letting life in, embracing it fully and giving at least as much back as you are getting? As Rabbi Harold Kushner says “Can you see the holiness in those things you take for granted–a paved road or a washing machine? If you concentrate on finding what is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul. “

Or, are you holding life and love back at an arms length, waiting to enjoy it until you have accumulated enough, found the right life mate, look good enough, have accomplished enough, worked hard enough or something-else-enough?

Now is the opportune time to fall in love with your life and the priceless blessings in it. Now is the time to embrace your friends, your partner and your family and remind them how precious they are to you. Now is the time to watch a sunset, smell a flower and remember that your next breath is a gift – an incredible opportunity to experience aliveness. Don’t miss the whole reason for this journey. Don’t miss the gift while waiting for its arrival. We wish you an incredible day of yes-ness.

© Dr. Dina Bachelor Evan 2013

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