Gratitude is the heart’s response to life’s infinite blessings. As we live in awareness and appreciation we experience and express the richness of life. 

We invite you to join us on a 30-day journey of gratefulness. Affirm the following and check back each day for gratitude tips and heartwarming inspiration. 

My gratitude expresses as peace, love, and joy. I am gratefully and wonderfully blessed! 

Simple Gratitudes

By Rev. Paul John Roach
Originally appeared in Daily Word®.

I believe we need only one thing to live in gratitude and appreciation. That one thing is our ability to allow the present moment to unfold just as it is. The simple willingness to look and listen is all we need to open up to whole new worlds of possibility. When that expanded vision arises in us, we cannot help but give joyful thanks.

My first experience of this shift in awareness came when I was 7 years old. My sister had just died, and there was much sadness in our family. I remember walking with my dad through a forest on the slopes of a mountain we often visited on family outings. It was late summer, and my father picked hazelnuts from the bushes and fed them to me. His tender gesture of love transported me to a timeless place of light and safety. I felt a tremendous sense of well-being, and what I experienced in that moment has stayed with me ever since. It propelled me on the spiritual journey that led eventually into ministry.

What happened that summer day? I was simply present, without expectation, to that moment and to my dad’s actions. A shift in my awareness opened me to appreciate the love and healing happening around me. Looking back, I see that the grief that followed my sister’s death may actually have made that moment more intense. Everything conspires, it seems, to help us realize the fragile magnificence of our lives.

I have also felt inspired in the presence of those who appreciate every moment, no matter what the experience is. At the beginning of my conscious spiritual journey, I met a man who had overcome advanced cancer by giving thanks for everything. When the car engine started, he would declare, “Thank You, God!” As the sun rose, “Thank You, God!” Even if he faced a challenge, his response still was “Thank You, God!”

I was not in the habit of appreciating everything so keenly, and I was quite startled by his approach. It did, though, get my attention. I began to understand that thoughts held in mind, and words vocalized, do indeed have power to change our lives. Overcoming cancer is impressive, but what struck me more was this person’s genuine happiness. I wanted some of that joy too!

Thankfully, as the saying goes, it is never too late to begin. We may have been absent to the universe, but the universe has never been absent to us. The minute we look around us with natural curiosity, the moment we attune ourselves and listen without judgment, we open up to spacious new vistas.

Sometimes we may miss these moments. We overlook them on our way to something we consider more meaningful. To become aware, we slow down, look, and listen to what is present right now. Such is the hidden splendor of God’s universe that, if we can just be for a few minutes, rich spiritual rewards await us.

Do you remember a time when a seemingly ordinary, even mundane, event took on greater significance because you were fully present to it? Did it spark a sense of gratitude that arose spontaneously from within?

The immortal words of Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 remind us to “give thanks in all circumstances.” That means being grateful for whatever happens. If we live by that standard, we will be transformed.

Begin today. Notice the clouds and the changing light as your day progresses. Look into a friend’s eyes as you share a meal or a conversation together. Be open to adventure at the checkout line or in traffic. A kindness shared and a courtesy offered may move you, without fail, into your rightful place of generosity, gratitude, and joy, which are your true nature. Yes, only one thing is required, and it is available to you right now!

Prayers of Thanksgiving

Thank You, God, for Your ever-present sanctuary of love and joy and peace within my heart. My only need is to savor Your sweet presence in my life. I trust—truly trust—that I am in Your care and that all is well. Thank You, God.

Thank You, God, for Your living truth as it speaks to me in unmistakable ways. I still my body. I still my mind. I relax completely. I surrender myself to You, God. Fill me with Your presence as I listen in the silence.

Holy Presence within me, I am willing to release all feelings of hurt and anger and resentment. Help me know true forgiveness and see each person as part of You. Let my words and my actions serve only to glorify You. May they heal and comfort and harmonize my life and the lives of those around me. Thank You, God.

Great Spirit of this universe, how glorious are Your ways. My human mind cannot fully grasp the magnitude of all You are, yet I know I am Yours. Thank You for the safety of Your guiding presence—wherever I am, whatever I do.

Thank You, God, for the growing awareness of who I am. You have created me to express You. I make the commitment today to be Your hands, Your voice, Your heart. Live Your life through me—fully and completely.

The cells of my body shout for joy as they resurrect into new life! Thank You, God, for Your powerful healing presence as it touches every atom of my body, calling forth a radiant wholeness.

I choose this day to serve You, God—to let my love radiate to all people and to be an inspiration to help lift others. My only prayer is to know You. Aware of Your sacred presence within me, I am a blessing to all whose lives I touch.

Gentle Spirit, I have heard Your call. I feel You drawing me closer to the realization of Your presence in my life. I hunger to know You more. I want to love You more and serve You more. I am willing to let You take charge of my life. Show me Your way, God, for I am ready.

Get Up, My Son

By Skip Broussard
Originally appeared in Daily Word
®.

When I tell you that God actually spoke to me, you might think I’m nuts. Most people would. But you know, God’s guidance comes in many forms.

Several years ago I was going through a terribly difficult divorce. I was not only losing my wife of 12 years, but also my 3-year-old daughter. I was devastated.

One particularly bad night, I was on my knees, begging God to take away the pain, when in my head, I clearly heard a calm, masculine voice say, “Get up, my son.”

Rising from the floor, I dusted myself off and sat to consider what had just happened. Was that the voice of God? If not, then whose was it? I was certain I had not imagined it. I reasoned God didn’t want me on my knees, but I knew there was more to the message.

As the years passed, those four little words stayed with me. I continued to search for their deeper meaning. “Get up, my son.” I determined that “get up” meant praying in a more positive fashion, but also having a higher consciousness: Get up from despair. Get up from perceived separation from God. Elevate my awareness that God delivered me to this life to live it joyously, not wracked with despair. My task was to seek God’s kingdom first and foremost.

One day I was driving aimlessly around the city, absorbed in prayer and introspection. Coming to a stoplight in a rather bad neighborhood, I noticed a vacant lot littered with refuse and full of weeds. Hanging from a weathered billboard, a faded paper sign flapped in the wind. Squinting to see the lettering, I read, “Pray. It Works.”

When the light changed, I had to pull over for a moment. I was struck by what I just saw. It felt as though the message was intended for me. It was not a coincidence. The sign wasn’t easy to read, and if the light had been green, I’d have breezed past it. Seeing the ministry behind that ragged message, I thanked God for whomever erected it. I prayed for all who read it. I felt connected to the group of folks whom the sign touched.

I believe God’s messages gently guide us on our journey and awaken in us what needs awakening. I keep these messages on sticky notes on my computer screen. Their meaning subtly changes with the twists and turns of my path, and they become more clear and relevant with each day.

Have you ever received a message from God? Did you doubt its source? Did you dismiss it, yet it wouldn’t leave you? I believe God sends us messages. It is for us to become, as Daily Word once suggested, spiritual detectives, ever alert for clues and communiqués from God. Don’t question whether it’s meant for you. Of course, it is. Otherwise you wouldn’t have noticed it. Get up, my friend!

Singing Lessons

By Anne Stadler

I watched the birds outside
this early morning.
Already cheerfully
going about the business of the day.
they woke singing:
I woke worrying.
A pronounced contrast
in attitudes—
a gentle reminder
to be aware of
and grateful for
my many blessings.
Keep the birds
at my window, Lord.
I would like to learn
to greet your gift of morning
with a song. 

Thanks Unto God

When we are grateful for the blessings we already have, our gratitude attracts extra good to us. Gratitude is a magnet that draws to us friends, love, peace, health, and material good.

There are many ways in which we can show our appreciation to God and to our fellow human beings. In our prayers we can give thanks for the answer even before it appears, as Jesus did at the tomb of Lazarus.

We can take time to enumerate all the wonderful things that God has done for us and breathe a “Bless You, God” for them. In our contacts with people we can remember to be courteous and kind, to say “Thank you” and “God bless you,” to extend understanding and constructive sympathy, to smile, to share our “glad tidings,” to withhold every thought and word that would mar the loveliness of personal relationships.

True gratitude is a spiritual quality that is built into the soul with each day's practice, and its reward is rich and infinitely satisfying.

Giving Thanks for Everything

By Rev. Paulette Pipe
Originally appeared in Daily Word
®.

“Let me turn down the radio so I can hear you better,” my mother said as she disappeared off the line.

The next voice I heard on the phone was my dad’s and it startled me. I thought he was still in the hospital recovering from the heart attack he’d endured several days earlier. This telephone call to my mother was to get an update on his condition; she used it as an opportunity to pleasantly surprise me.

"Oh, Dad, you’re home! I’m so glad to hear your voice. How are you feeling?" I asked. His standard reply seemed understated given the circumstances: "I’m all right for the time being," he responded.

After living in the United Kingdom for almost 25 years, my parents had moved back to their island home in the Caribbean. A few years before, I had introduced them to Daily Word, which they looked forward to receiving. As part of their daily devotion, my mum would read Daily Word out loud to my dad and then they would study the accompanying Scripture in greater depth. Though we were living in different parts of the world, starting our day with the same inspirational message was one of the ways we felt connected.

I had forgotten how, on a previous occasion, Dad and I had discussed one of the Daily Word topics. So when his next words to me were, "I did what you said," I was momentarily confused.

"What did I say?" I asked.

Dad reminded me that we had talked about the power of thanksgiving and gratitude. I had shared, among other things, that thanksgiving and gratitude were transformative practices that could heal any situation and that, no matter what was going on or how challenging the circumstances of our lives, we could always find something to give thanks for. In so doing, we could take the focus off what is "not working."

Those words, innocently shared in a conversation weeks beforehand, would resound in Dad’s mind the day he was being driven to the hospital with a failing heart.

The only hospital in St. Vincent and the Grenadines is located in the capital of Kingstown, 12 miles from my parents’ home, and accessible only by one narrow road that runs the length of the island. To wait for an ambulance to arrive from the capital to transport Dad to the hospital would have meant certain death. The only recourse to try to save his life was for my younger brother, Leroy, to drive him there in the family car.

Filled with potholes and cliff ledges overhanging the sea, the road is a dangerous and uncomfortable drive at the best of times and even more so when being driven at break-neck speed!

As Leroy drove over potholes and maneuvered hairpin turns, agonizing bolts of pain seared my dad’s chest. Damp and clammy with sweat, barely able to breathe, he clutched at his chest and, with every jolt, gasped over and over again, "Thank you, Jesus!"

While lying on a hospital gurney, with my anxious mother at his side, and not sure whether he would survive, my dad sent goodbye messages of love to his children and, between each wave of wracking pain that continued to rip through his body, he just kept repeating, "Thank you, Jesus! Thank you, Jesus!"

When Dad was finished recounting how he had literally taken me at my word, I was stunned. Tears stung my eyes. "That’s not exactly what I had in mind when I told you to give thanks for everything," I said. However, I’m convinced this improbable demonstration of thanksgiving actually saved Dad’s life.

My dad lived for six more years, and I am extremely grateful for the lasting impression he left with me. Even when his life hung in the balance—he gave thanks anyway.

Count Your Blessings

By Ruth Ann Lonardelli
From Unity Magazine®

Remember, as a child, laboring to write thank-you notes to friends and relatives for gifts that maybe were not truly loved? Writing thank-you notes was nonnegotiable when I was growing up. Later, when my generation had children, some parents dismissed that gesture as outdated, disingenuous, insincere, and therefore, unnecessary, and did not require it of their children. The notion was that gratitude had to be a feeling rather than a practice. I’ve always believed that even when we may not genuinely appreciate the material gift, we can acknowledge, recognize, and be grateful for the giver.

It is vitally important for a culture to develop ways to recognize and acknowledge gifts, whether we feel like it or not. “Gratitude is the greatest of virtues!” said Cicero.

Contemporary thinkers seem to agree. Gratitude is “the foundation of interaction in many other cultures,” says Robert Emmons, a leading scholar in the positive psychology movement. “Gratitude,” says cultural anthropologist Angeles Arrien, “creates a field of resonance.” That is, it creates life-affirming energy and action. Gratitude, then, is active. It is something we do.

When l was in my 20s, I experienced a period of deep depression. At the time, being grateful felt like a cliched and simplistic mental exercise that didn't begin to touch my pain. I resented it when people told me to just count my blessings. But somehow, through grace, I was able to spontaneously access appreciation with enough feeling to break the surface of my depressive state.

It began by noticing small things—like the beauty of the blazing red maple tree outside my window, the sound of raindrops after a long dry summer, or the sight of a jittery bird bouncing on a branch.

As I began to collect those moments, I began to think of it as following breadcrumbs back to the light. Another unexpected outcome was that when I caught myself in this game, I began to appreciate myself. This was a major shift for someone who was deeply depressed. I didn't even realize it at the time, but when I was experiencing appreciation I sensed something in myself that I could respect—the ability to notice little things with a sense of gratitude. That’s the power of appreciation. Even a small amount of it can change our experience for the better.

Appreciation is a feeling state. It can be ushered in by thoughtful recognition, and it can also be spontaneous. It has energy, sometimes subtle and soft, sometimes electrifying, that leads to feelings of connection and well-being. The more we look for and expect these states to show up, the more we experience them as the embodiment of grace. Appreciation challenges our stalwart defense of self-containment, slipping through the crevices of our armor, like one of those tenacious but delicate-looking flowers that pushes through a crack in the concrete. We turn the corner of our self-preoccupation, our loneliness, and are stopped in our tracks by a gift in nature, or a kindness, and we remember there is life beyond our walls. Appreciation can truly be a saving grace.

“Prayer is the contemplation of the facts of life from the highest point of view,”said Emerson. “It is the soliloquy of a beholding and jubilant soul.”

This awareness is the essence of gratitude, a celebration of wholeness that lifts us up, energizes, and transforms us. 

Count Your Blessings

As children, many of us learned to sing a Sunday school hymn which includes the words:

Count your blessings,
Name them one by one;
Count your many blessings,
See what God has done.

This is excellent advice. To awaken in the morning and lie quietly for a while, just being grateful for all the lovely things we can recall, prepares our minds and hearts for the new day ahead. Or to take time, upon retiring, to review the blessings the day has brought is to be assured of calm and restful sleep. To pause at any time and say, “Thank You, God,” for some specific blessing nourishes and strengthens the soul.

A spirit of praise and thanksgiving is something we should make a vital, indispensable part of our everyday lives. No matter who we are, where we are, or what the time or occasion, we always have something for which to be thankful.

With perceptive hearts, we can see that God bestows upon us much more good than we need for our existence. The mere need for shelter is enriched by warmth and comfort. Food to sustain our bodies often delights our palates, is served with imagination to please our eye, and is frequently enhanced by interesting conversation and good fellowship.

Light and air and water are necessary to life, but when they are combined in a brilliant sunset over the sea, these elemental substances become a masterpiece of divine creation.

The wind may be a necessity, but what of the song it sings on a summer night? The rain quenches the earth's thirst and produces flourishing food crops, but what of the colors and fragrances of flowers also nourished by the rain? These are luxurious and lovely extras of life which shed beauty and induce wonder.

Look at your needs and see how simple they are compared to your blessings. Take time to enumerate all the good things you have. You will discover that there is far too much beauty and goodness in life simply to fulfill utilitarian purposes. The lavish hand of God spreads bountiful gifts over all the world, into every life, touching with grace and generosity every receptive soul.

How you word your prayer of thanksgiving is not important. It is important that you recognize your blessings and feel joy and gratitude. As you become increasingly aware of the love. goodness, and beneficence of God, you will be filled with such an uplifting and overwhelming sense of gratitude that words and feelings will merge into a warm glow of gladness and exhilaration. You will discover that thankfulness lifts you out of depression and doubt and elevates your soul to the heights of spiritual joy and security.

The good in your life expands proportionately as you look for and give thanks for your blessings. Praise and thanksgiving will make you more aware of the good about you, and your thoughts and prayers will reach out to include others. You will feel divine harmony with others as you mentally praise the good that you see in them, for our spirits always respond to what is good and true in people and circumstances.

Counting your blessings rewards you in infinite ways. When you begin to recognize your good and give thanks for it, you will meet it in unexpected places. As you open your heart and mind to God, good will come to you in every experience and in every person. In the accumulation of little joys, in small blessings heaped upon other small blessings, life adds up to a deep, priceless, and lovely adventure.

What’s Your Headline?

By Shawna Todd
Originally appeared in Daily Word®.

Imagining our lives on display for the world can provide insights into areas we feel good about and areas we may want to immediately change. Through visualization and imagination, new possibilities appear. Prayer and meditation guide our next steps in making our new headlines reality. With Spirit, we can cocreate our future headlines.

What will your headline be in three months? Six months? One year? Perhaps, "Woman Breezes Through Day in Complete Serenity" or "Man Creatively Spends Time With Family and Friends."

To begin cocreating your future story, first imagine the life of your dreams. Be 100 percent in the moment—see, feel, and believe it. It may be, "Kathy Receives Bachelor’s Degree, Lands Dream Job." Read the reporter's words and know they are reality. Feel the feelings of receiving your degree and starting your new career. Picture the accompanying photos and captions: you with your diploma, the celebration party, or your desk at the new job.

Next, ask questions. Turn within and dialogue with God. God, how do I create this new reality? How can I prepare to live this new headline and story? What is the next step I can take, right now?

Finally, feel the gratitude of living your new headline. In partnership with God, you can create the life of your dreams.

A Gratitude Meditation From Unity

 

 

Living a Noble Life

Rev. Joan M. Gattuso
Originally appeared in Unity Magazine®.

When you take inventory of what you have to be grateful for, your faith is bound to increase.

During the holiday season, it is holy and noble to seek out ways to be a blessing to others, to acknowledge the large and the subtle ways others have enriched our lives. Having an attitude of gratitude will always draw to us more and more for which we can be thankful.

Reflect on putting your relationship with God at the top of your personal list. Without my relationship with God and spiritual laws, I would have lost my way and my faith a long time ago.

I recently visited a distant cousin who is in the end stages of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS (also known Lou Gehrig’s disease). She and her family exude such love for each other and are thankful for every day they can be together. During my visit, my cousin’s eyes still twinkled as she laughed, although she could no longer move or speak. As spiritual beings we are not to pity such dear ones, but we need to show them compassion and share our loving-kindness with them. Pity separates us from another’s suffering, while compassion opens our hearts and connects us to that individual.

When we are practitioners of gratitude, we learn to be thankful for everything. Even those events in our lives that appear to be unpleasant will—if we look for it—reveal a hidden blessing to us.

Let each of us look through the lenses of gratitude at everyone in our lives and celebrate the obvious delights as we'll also uncover the hidden ones. There is no better way to spend your own quiet time than reflecting on the reasons you have to be truly grateful.

My heart swells with gratitude when I meditate on what I'm thankful for in my life. My husband David first comes to mind. I will be forever grateful for his arrival 23 years ago. It remains a joy to be in our committed relationship in which we share our spiritual journey, interests, and lifestyle.

The next wonderful blessing is to be the only daughter of parents who loved, nurtured, and encouraged me. My depth of gratitude knows no bounds for them.

My mind drifts to treasured friends and spiritual teachers, all of whom supported my spiritual awakening. I am thankful for later teachers who fanned the flame of the writer in me—from other authors to my totally supportive literary agent, to phenomenal editors and publishers. My literary agent is a person who exudes an attitude of gratitude and who, without saying a word, has taught me what it means to be a gracious person.

When we push the pause button and reflect on all those who have blessed our journey, many people come to mind. For me, it is my ministerial classmates and my beloved congregants who swell my heart.

Here are a few techniques on how to deepen the consciousness of gratitude for yourself:

  1. Always hold God at the forefront of your mind, and first and foremost give God the thanks.
  2. Make a list of your dear ones and send each a loving blessing during your meditation time.
  3. Send a note of thanksgiving to each person on your list, making sure it arrives before the Christmas onslaught of mail.
  4. Call or see personally the ones for whom you feel the greatest appreciation and tell them how you feel. As the song says, “Shower the people you love with love/Tell them the way that you feel.”

What a difference you will make in their lives and yours.

A major shift in global consciousness would occur if we all sent such love and thoughts of gratitude into our home, work, church, community, state, and world. Collectively we have the power to shift consciousness and bring forth a transformed world through the expression of our love and gratitude. 

Do Not Wait to Give Thanks

By Martha Smock

Do you look at your life and long for it to be different, to be better? You take an important step toward having the kind of life you long to have by establishing the habit of giving thanks.

Do not wait to give thanks until every prayer is answered. Do not wait to give thanks until things are perfect. Give thanks where you are, in the present set of circumstances, in the conditions in which you find yourself. Give thanks for life; give thanks for this day at hand. Give thanks for the opportunities to grow and learn.

Your attitude of thankfulness lifts you out of any feeling of depression, out of any feeling of loneliness.

Give thanks to God and look at life with a thankful spirit. In your heart, say: Here I am, Lord. I open my heart to You. I offer my life to You. I come to You thankfully, joyously. Guide me, bless me, lead me with Your light.

The Great Fullness of Life: Part 1 

By Rev. Kelly Isola

I have often heard the phrase “In all things, we give thanks.” I must confess that sometimes I have silently wondered, Really? All things? I don’t know about anyone else, but I have been met by plenty of people and experiences where giving thanks or extending gratitude was not even on my radar screen.

It is on these occasions that I recognize the invitation to return to a thankful heart, and even more than that, a return to the consciousness of gratefulness. So for the next four weeks, my invitation to you is to join me on this journey of gratefulness, or as the title says, “The Great Fullness of Life.”

A long time ago, when I was fresh off the streets of addiction, a beloved in my life encouraged me to notice the things I was thankful for as part of the beginnings of a spiritual practice. At that time it seemed fairly easy—I had a roof over my head, I was clean, I was beginning to have friends that wanted nothing from me, and I wasn’t alone, suffering in silence.

The longer I stayed clean, the more freedom I experienced—physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. However, what I hadn’t expected was that with this great freedom came great responsibility, not only for my whole life, but also for others in the world. This was my introduction to gratitude.

The longer I was in recovery, the more I could hear the ever-increasing sense of responsibility asking me to also acknowledge and give thanks for the things in life that I didn’t like, or even hated! At first I didn’t get it. So I asked a beloved who had walked this path before me, and he told me, “Kelly, gratitude is saying, ‘Thank you, God, and let me show you what it means to me.’” I wasn’t feeling very thankful, but I decided to trust his words.

For a long time I practiced this when I found myself slipping into some form of self-centeredness. I practiced it in times of despair, anger, frustration, and loneliness. What I discovered in this practice was that I couldn’t experience the freedom or fullness of life if I disliked or hated anything. In order to see life differently, I had to love what was in front of me. Once I loved something, it came to me, unfolding gently and gracefully, like a freshly ironed linen tablecloth.

It wasn’t enough to simply recognize the things in life that were easy to like, I had to embrace it all, love it all. I had to look at the things I didn’t like, appreciate them, and even take a step toward them with awe and wonder, like silently approaching a butterfly that is slowly fanning its wings on a flower. Stepping into what I didn’t like or want in life became a form of gravity that drew me into the web of all life. This is why gratitude is such a powerful and compelling tool—it reminds me of my place in this world, in the universe.

I now know that those beginning days of saying, “Thank you, and let me show you what it means to me,” was a commitment to action, to connect with the world outside myself. Therein lies the freedom and responsibility. Today it reminds me that whatever I do, I leave an echo in the world for all life to hear. Those echoes are moments of wholehearted belonging, where I am showing the world what my life means. Therein lies my thankfulness and gratitude.

Next week: The difference between thankfulness and gratefulness.

The Great Fullness of Life: Part 2

By Rev. Kelly Isola

The other morning I had a meltdown. By meltdown, I mean I was crying so hard I couldn’t catch my breath. This kind of intense crying isn’t something new; I have experienced it during the most painful times of my life. The difference, though, on this morning was that I was weeping in celebration. I had opened myself so completely to acknowledging the reality of wholeness that the tears overflowed as I was wrapped in the compassionate arms of another.

This inner opening, what I call surrendering, is the inlet to my wholeness. For me it’s similar to what Thomas Merton called a “hidden wholeness,” which really isn’t hidden. It’s just so vast and eternal that it is almost impossible to see and hold for very long—just like those times when I have stretched myself out onto the cool grass to enjoy the night air, only to disappear into the stars. I stare into the heavenly hosts long enough for the 6-year-old inside to emerge.

Eugene O’Neill puts it this way as he talks about stargazing on a sailboat. “I became drunk with the beauty and rhythm of it, and for a moment I lost myself—actually lost my life. I dissolved in the sea, became white sails and flying spray ... became moonlight and the ship and the high, dim-starred sky! I belonged, without past or future, within peace and unity and a wild joy, within something greater than my own life, to Life itself!”

I love how he describes this experience. These moments of getting lost, of dissolving into all that is around me, of timelessness—this is gratefulness. The great fullness of life, where I belong with no “past or future ... within wild joy” is a whole body experience. I lose myself into oneness with all things, with no separation. This is gratefulness, and it tells me I am nothing and I am everything.

In those few precious seconds the other morning, I felt the wild joy that O’Neill talks about. Then came the realization of another moment, after the gratefulness, when I could hear a voice inside me giving thanks. I was now aware of being separate from that perfect belonging, that oneness called gratefulness.

I wonder if I get caught up in trying to transcend my separateness. Do I always need to be trying to escape the experience of “I am I and you are you”? Being separate, at least in this experience, means there was a giver and a receiver. In one moment there was no time or space between the person comforting and myself. And in the next moment—when my mind noticed there were two of us—my gratefulness had poured over into becoming thankfulness.

My gratefulness was a celebration of ultimate belonging, the recognition that all life is together. My thankfulness was a celebration of kindness, acknowledging the ripple of life between myself and the other person, affirming our kinship. Even though that awareness of oneness, of losing myself, didn’t last long, which is usually the case, I am left with a small awareness that hints at a greater understanding.

In the end I don’t think I can teach you gratefulness or thankfulness, but I can share with you my precious moments of belonging with no “past or future ... within wild joy.” And an invitation to gaze into the starry sky to lose yourself and overflow into finding your cosmic kinship.

The Great Fullness of Life: Part 3 

By Rev. Kelly Isola

“I had a farm in Africa at the foot of the Ngong Hills ...” This is the opening sentence of the book Out of Africa, and it’s probably one of my most cherished lines from any book.

From one sentence that says so little, my attention is caught and my imagination kicks in. I begin to wonder what will come next as my curiosity builds.

Where is this story going?

Will anyone else be touched by it?

Just like when I drop a pebble in a lake. I watch the ripples move out from the moment it hits the water, yet I will never see how far the ripples reach. I will never hear the stone hit the bottom as I watch it fall into the darkness. I will never know the touch of the wavelets on a fish that swims far away, as unaware of me as I am of it.

As I gaze intently at the motion my pebble caused, I realize my imagination is once again pondering the infinite possibilities for these little waves. And so it is with gratefulness.

As I mentioned in the previous article, gratefulness overflows into becoming thankfulness. It unfolds in some most unexpected ways, rippling out, blessing all that is around me, and beyond. I have no way of knowing how or where or when the echo of perfection that is me, lost in the energy of oneness and belonging that is gratefulness, will be a gift to another as thankfulness.

This Hindu story paints this same picture of the true nature of gratefulness and how it comes alive as thankfulness, blessing all that is around me:

There is a boy, who wants a drum, but his mother can’t afford one, and sadly, she gives him a stick. Though he doesn’t know what to do with it, he begins to play with the stick. He then encounters an old woman trying to light her woodstove. The boy gives her the stick and she lights her stove, makes some bread, and in return she gives him half a loaf.

Walking on, the boy comes upon a potter’s wife whose child is crying from hunger. The boy gives her the bread. In gratitude, she gives him a pot. Though he doesn’t know what to do with it, he carries it along the river, where he sees a man and his wife quarreling because the wife broke their one pot that they used to wash clothes. The boy gives them the pot. In return, they give him a coat.

Since the boy isn’t cold, he carries the coat until he comes to a bridge, where a man is shivering. The man was attacked and robbed of everything but his horse. The boy gives him the coat. Humbled, the man gives him his horse.

Not knowing how to ride, the boy walks the horse into town, where he meets a wedding party with musicians. The bridegroom and his family are all sitting under a tree with long faces. According to custom, the bridegroom is supposed to enter the wedding procession on a horse, which hasn’t shown, so the boy gives him the horse.

Relieved, the bridegroom asks what he can do for the boy. Seeing the drummer surrounded by all his drums, the boy asks for the smallest drum, which the musician gladly gives him.

What I love about this story is how it unfolds in unexpected ways, showing what possibility lies in being present, by simply saying “yes” with an open mind and open heart. When I imagine myself as that little boy, I wonder what would have happened if I had stopped at any point along the journey with any of the everyday items humbly given. I would have cut short the unfoldment of my own goodness.

But if I follow the thread of the gifts given, I experience the great fullness of my life in the relationships all around me. I expand my capacity for living in that divine web that connects all life, giving whatever I have to someone in need and accepting what comes my way, even when I think it’s not what I really want.

So during this season of Thanksgiving, join me in being willing to linger in the open space between us—between what we give and what we receive—remembering that we are sharing this cosmic adventure with billions of people, all touched by that echo of perfection that is you.

 

Read Part 4 of The Great Fullness of Life.

 

The Great Fullness of Life: Part 4

By Rev. Kelly Isola

As I look back on the last four weeks of writing this series and reading each entry multiple times, one question keeps popping up: Now what?

Now that I have put my thoughts on paper, gained a little more clarity, expanded the capacity of my own spiritual practice of gratefulness and thankfulness, where do I go from here? I wonder if I have been changed in any way, or if I will do things a little bit differently today.

Joanna Macy, the great Buddhist scholar and ecophilosopher, says gratefulness is the source of all true art. I love this idea because it reminds me that the great fullness of life is a creative journey—one that I am imagining and expressing. I suppose I resonate so deeply with it because it is an affirmation of how I have chosen to live my life: To be a creator of beauty by inspiring and awakening individuals into a greater experience of their divinity through the wholeness of the human experience.

Frequently in religious or spiritual traditions we are taught to release or transcend the human experience, to move to a place of pure divinity as though it were a destination or something to aspire to. Not for me. To know the ultimate belonging that is gratefulness and have that flow out into thankfulness, I need to embrace the joy and the suffering that is all of life. It is in both experiences that I find the place of stillness where God is being me, and I am being God.

It’s not about freeing myself from being human. It’s about the dance between my human and divine nature.

Because this is not a solitary journey, I must never forget that this dance is one I engage in with you. I experience the great fullness of my life through relationships, through being aware of how we are related to each other, and to the universe. In our dance we are exploring the source of our true art—the wellspring of our power to create, thereby healing the world. In the end, I think this is the true nature of gratefulness.

The great fullness of life is not something to accomplish or aspire to. It is not something to be mastered, nor is it something at which to succeed. The great fullness of my life is something I lean into with every step of my human dance.

While in this practice I am delving into everything in my life, even things I label as “the good, the bad, and the ugly,” and discovering a field of treasures, a nutrient rich soil, “the source of all true art” from which to create beauty, delivering me into the world just as I am: good, true, and beautiful.

I affirm I am part of a vast and marvelous pirouette that goes on forever, in every moment, in every corner, and with every particle of the universe. My thankfulness becomes a celebration of the joyful expression of my being. It is the heart of my creativity and compassionate moments of devotion.

Have a joy-filled Thanksgiving!

The Art of Living

By Rev. Carla McClellan
Originally appeared in Daily Word®.

At a certain point in our lives we realize we may be making life harder than it has to be. We notice an increased frustration, resentment, or disappointment. Perhaps we lack joy in our daily lives or feel there is not enough time, money, love, or creativity available to change our situation. We seem to have lost our ability to turn our dreams into reality.

In coaching, we look at life as a Hero’s Journey. The Hero is that part of us that remains constant and courageous, regardless of what is happening around us. It is our authentic self—the essence of who we are, apart from our personality traits or the drama that sometimes surrounds our lives. The Hero, a term used by the philosopher Joseph Campbell, is an archetype of what keeps us moving forward through life.

To rediscover the Hero within you and experience greater joy, fulfillment, and satisfaction in your life, begin by simply asking yourself, Would it be alright if my life got easier? Asking yourself this question may even cause you to laugh. Laughter connects us with the Divine within. Asking certain questions allows us to begin our inward journey.

Next, ask yourself, Am I willing to be authentic? Find the qualities that have deepest meaning for you and affirm their importance in your life. An example might be: I am willing to be courageous and loving, creative, and kind when I interact with people today.

Third, begin to observe rather than analyze your life. When we analyze, we remain engaged in the same conversation that stopped us from moving forward in the first place. But when we observe, we give ourselves the space to discern what is happening right before us and then to act from wisdom.

Fourth, be willing to say “yes” to what is, even those situations that are causing you discomfort. When you say “yes,” you are accepting the facts of the situation, but not its power over you. Acceptance opens us up to the field of possibilities, and we see there are many choices before us. Dag Hammarskjöld, former head of the United Nations, once said, “To everything that has been, I say, ‘Thank you.’ To everything before me, I say, ‘Yes!’” Yes changes the energy in our body and our courageous heart opens up to expressing something creative and different.

Through willingness, self-reflection, observation, and acceptance, we are able to take authentic action and live lives filled with meaning, courage, and possibilities.

Making Gratitude Real

By Peter Bolland
Originally appeared in Unity Magazine®.

How a No. 2 pencil became a magic wand that broke one spell after another. 

I had to do something. I had to change my mind. I couldn’t keep trudging down the same tired road, stuck like water in a channel it did not choose. I needed to dig a new channel. But I couldn’t find the shovel.

Simply scolding myself to think new thoughts didn’t help. Habitual conditioning doesn’t break that easily.

I needed to take action.

I began to keep a gratitude journal.

Every morning for a year, I got up and sat with my blank book and a pencil. I’d write, “I’m grateful for …” and wait. It sometimes took a while, but I always came up with something. Even if I didn’t necessarily feel it, I wrote it anyway. Action precedes internal transformation.

I often wrote about the same things—my wife, my work, my home.

And sometimes fleeting moments crept in—the color of the sky, a hovering hummingbird, the smell of French onion soup. 

Some days it was easy. Some days it was hard. But a certain tenacity, a stubborn doggedness, took hold. I was not going to screw this up. My ego was on the line. Hey, whatever it takes. 

Something began to shift after a few weeks. I began to look forward to my morning writing. It was a chance to testify, to tell the simple truth about the life I live, to proclaim and record the evidence that life has infinite value and is fleshed out with a beauty that takes your breath away. It is surprisingly not often one gets to say true things. It’s generally frowned upon in polite conversation. People look at you like you’re drunk. 

Then a few months later I began to notice a subtler, deeper shift. The daily practice of writing concrete examples of gratitude made me look at my experiences through different eyes. As I went through my day, I scanned the periphery like a predator for beauty, grace and the generosity of the world—you know, things to be grateful for. Knowing I had a writing assignment due in a few hours, I stayed vigilant, eyes wide for bounty. And do you know what happens when you look for something? You find it. 

This is the secret power of the gratitude journal. In the end, the journal doesn’t matter. It’s just the leavings after the feast. It’s not the product—it’s the process that changes you. The gratitude journal is simply a device, a shovel for digging a new channel through which the restless mind can flow. 

Before I began keeping a gratitude journal, I passed the hours in worry and fear, convinced I had to guard against the inevitable onslaughts of an uncaring world and navigate a sea of vaguely dangerous human beings, all working at cross-purposes. It was stressful. After keeping a gratitude journal for a year, these old habits of thought were reprogrammed. The scales fell from my eyes, and I began to see the world as a field of infinite possibility—a beneficent, nourishing, beautiful home filled with creative people, all working toward the good as best they understood it. 

I didn’t change the world. I changed the way I saw the world. 

And then the final, subtlest and most important shift occurred. An insight arose from the marrow of my bones. In the authority of my own experience, I came to know something I had previously only suspected, or read about secondhand in the world’s great spiritual classics, like Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself.” I came to know I was one with the sacred source of all things, an integral member of an interconnected web of being. I made peace with paradox and declared an everlasting armistice with myself. My conflicted confusion gave way to confident serenity. My grimace of anxiety gave way to a smile. I began to laugh more easily and cry more deeply. The light returned to my eyes. I let go of the need to control, a need born of the fear that there is never enough. I came home to myself, and found it was a pretty good place to live. 

Who knew a pencil and piece of paper could do all this? 

How to Give Thanks

By J. Sig Paulson

Expressing gratitude through praise and thanksgiving can start in any area of our lives and bring immediate results.

According to the Bible, all of us are made in the image of God. Our exercise in gratitude will begin with these words: I praise and give thanks for God's image in me.

You cannot repeat these words sincerely for long without feeling a flow of energy that lifts your whole being. And perhaps for the first time, you will begin to appreciate who and what you are. Although you may have buried your real self, your identity, in the mire of condemnation and ingratitude, it will soon respond to your words, thoughts and feelings of gratitude expressed through praise and thanksgiving.

For a refreshing approach to praying for others, use the same gratitude exercise in this way: I praise and give thanks for God's image in you.

The finest help we can give another human being is to recognize gratefully his or her true identity. This exercise in gratitude, performed silently and sincerely, will often change another's life for the better.

Jesus said that we are the light of the world. Try this exercise: I praise and give thanks for the light of the world that I am and for my expanding ability to let this light shine.

Consistent practice of this exercise will erase darkness from mind, heart, body, and affairs and fill your whole being and world with light. It will be easy for you to rephrase this so that you can help in letting light into someone else’s life.

The apostle Paul told us that after we discover our real identity, we stop letting ourselves be pushed around by the world of appearances and become a life-giving spirit.

Here is an affirmation with which to begin: As a life-giving spirit, I praise and give thanks for the power to stimulate all the life and health-distributing centers of my mind, heart, and body.

Or: As a life-giving spirit, I praise and give thanks for the power to release this vitalizing energy of eternal life into all that concerns me. I joyously charge mind, heart, body, work, relationships with other people, and my whole world with the refreshing life current I distribute

And don't stop with yourself: As a life-giving spirit, you can send a current of energizing life into another's experience.

Tell Yourself ‘Thanks!’

By Cheryl Russell
Excerpt from Unity Magazine®

There is a simple elegance about the words “thank you.” Having grown up with Unity teachings, I know that a gratitude consciousness is the essence of my being. So much so that thank you is a core value of my personal mission statement—to create a lifestyle of simple elegance. Thank you is my compass, my heartbeat, my way of life. Thank you is my mantra, my simple, elegant prayer. The more I explore the art of saying thank you, the more I discover its infinite life-changing potential.

My faith in God and a grateful heart have manifested world travels, rewarding careers, and magical places to live. And yet, at an early age, I had health issues. My body was challenged by surgeries, car accidents, and illnesses of one kind or another. I even had ongoing bruises for which I had no explanation.

What was I missing? In my prayers I thanked God for my life and used positive affirmations about my health. What else could I do to support my body, mind, and spirit for improved well-being? Could the answer to greater health be found in the power of thank you? I decided to find out with a simple experiment. Instead of acting mad or as if nothing happened, what if I stopped the minute I had an injury, regardless of how small or seemingly insignificant? What if I acknowledged the injured area of my body with thank you? Would the pain or bruise be less, or possibly not at all?

My first experiment occurred in the middle of the night when I got out of bed, walked into a door jamb and whacked my nose. Back in bed, I rubbed my hands together and put them over my nose. I apologized and repeatedly said thank you for all that it does for me. The next morning, there was no bruise, no soreness. Nothing!

Beginner's luck? Maybe. The next time I was in a beauty salon when a ceiling light fell and hit my forearm. When people rushed over, I was soothing myself with words of gratitude for it. Again, no bruising. No soreness. Since then, I rarely bruise.

My body's response to the experiments launched a new chapter in ThankYouology—my philosophy of how the art of saying thank you with thoughts, words, and actions transforms your life. What I discovered is the more I said thank you to my body, the more it responded with greater energy and vitality. I found that saying thank you to my body grounds me in the present moment to receive more of God's grace. Appreciation for my body keeps me focused on its divine gifts rather than any symptoms I might be experiencing. I have always been in awe of God's magnificence in my outer world. Now I direct that same reverence toward my body with what I call BodyThankYouology.

We start with our thoughts; we think thousands of them each day. How many thoughts of appreciation are you directing toward your body? Consider what is written in Proverbs: “For as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” The Buddha stated: “Our life is the creation of our mind.” The Peace Pilgrim sums it up with, “If you realized how powerful your thoughts are, you would never think a negative thought.”

Regardless of how you are feeling in this moment, what are your thoughts about your body? Are you thankful for everything it is doing on your behalf? Do you appreciate your cells? Your bones? Your organs such as the liver? ...

You can have fun with thank-you thoughts for your body with this simple suggestion. Make a list from A to Z of adjectives that begin with the same letter as each part of your body. For example: adorable arm, beautiful brain, and lovely liver. Using descriptive adjectives increases the power of your appreciation toward your body and its functions. Once you have created your A to Z list of adjectives, use it to praise your body with thank-you affirmations. A simple example is Thank you happy heart. Recite your customized affirmations during any activity such as walking, climbing stairs, driving the car, and doing household chores. Sing your thank-you affirmations if you are so inclined.

If you enjoy writing poetry, try thank-you rhymes like this one: Thank you to my exciting eyes and thank you to my precious pancreas—you are such a prize! …

Scripture assures us that "all things are possible through God"—the Source of all that is and the creative power to make it manifest. The more we can say thank you to our body, mind, and spirit, the more we can express our gratitude to others. When we appreciate others, we experience greater love and respect in our relationships. Imagine that! 

Setting a Trap for Gratitude

By Rev. Ruth Wallace
From Sacred Secrets

Gratitude, like the law of attraction, is one of the most powerful forces in the universe. When we feel gratitude, we feel love, joy, appreciation, humility and peace. We also attract even more experiences into our lives for which to feel grateful. …

Gratitude attracts greater abundance and has wonderful effects on us. When I am grateful, I feel light. I am able to be present. I forget about the little things—and even the big things—I worry about. I feel peaceful. I am not thinking about myself, but am “outwardly” focused. I see what's around me. I can sit quietly and watch nature. I can observe the birds and the flowers. They attract my attention, and I am grateful that I see them. My gratitude brings still more peace and awareness, and the upward spiral continues. My heart opens. I am happy and filled with joy. I watch the sky and the clouds and see them changing. Sitting by the ocean, I watch the sailboats and the birds as they dive for food. The world seems ethereal. I am one with God and all is well. …

When we are grateful, we are present to everything in our lives. We are grateful for it all because we see God in it all.

Too often we think of gratitude as the result of something. Someone does something nice for us, and we feel grateful. That is passive gratitude. I am advocating active gratitude. Conscious gratitude. Active gratitude is a way of living, a way of being. When we choose active gratitude, we are choosing to change our energy. We are using the law of attraction to bring to us more love, more good health and more abundance. We are co-creating our life with God.

One way to feel more gratitude is through prayer. Ask God to show you how to trust. Ask God to show how to create a loving relationship with a power greater than yourself. Pray yourself into a relationship with God that will comfort you, bless you, and sustain you. Allow God to love and bless you. Allow yourself to become aware of your good. By becoming aware of our good, we begin the upward spiral of gratitude. …

One way to tap the power of gratitude is by keeping a gratitude journal. Get a notebook, and before you go to bed each night, write down 10 things for which you are grateful. They might be as simple as “I woke up.” We take so many things for granted each day. This exercise helps us remember how truly beautiful the world is and how God works in our lives each day.

Most of us focus on the 10 percent of our lives that make us unhappy instead of the 90 percent for which we are grateful. Try reversing that. List at least 10 things from the 90 percent you are grateful for under the following headings: Health, Material Possessions, Relationships, Personal and Spiritual Growth and Creative Expression. By focusing on these, you enact the law of attraction and begin drawing to you even more good.

Then look at the 10 percent of your life that includes the “problem” areas—the things you want to change. Write them down, but instead of seeing them as problems, look for the blessings in them. If you can't see the good, then ask or, if necessary, demand to see the blessing. This is what Jacob did when he wrestled with the angel of God. He wouldn't let the angel go until he got a blessing. You can do the same. As you begin to see the blessing in each “problem” area, write the blessings down. You'll be surprised at how many you find.

For journal writing, I recommend the three-page approach: Get a pencil and three sheets of clean paper. Sit in a quiet place and get centered. Turn on soft music if you like. When you feel ready, begin writing the things you are grateful for and how you feel as you write them down. Don't stop writing until the three pages are filled. By the time you finish, you will experience the power of gratitude.

Practice gratitude daily and your life will change in ways you can hardly imagine. Discover the beautiful life you already have, right here and now!

Take a Friend to Work

By Rev. John Considine
Originally appeared in Daily Word®.

If you’re at all like me, you love the feeling of a Sunday morning church service—the uplifting music, inspirational message, the time of prayer, the shared experience of the presence of God. Then comes Monday morning and it’s back to the stresses and pressures of the workaday world. “Back to reality” people will say. Wouldn’t it be nice if we brought that Sunday feeling to work with us on Monday?

Here are a few secrets to help us experience the Divine Presence every day:

  • On Monday morning as you arrive at work, before you pick up the telephone, check your e-mail, or turn on a machine, take a moment to dedicate this day and week to being in relationship with God. You might say the Lord’s Prayer or simply, “Be with me, God.” The exact words are not important. Simply intend to be aware of the presence of God all week long.
  • If you use a computer at work, put a reminder of God’s presence on your screen saver. It need not be overly religious. Just a simple, “God is blessing me and my company today!” If you don’t use a computer, a 3x5 card near your workspace works just as well.
  • When the boss walks by, say a prayer for him or her. And throughout the day, pray for the success of your company and coworkers and the projects you are engaged in. Don’t pray to change anyone. That’s not your job. Pray that everyone feels loved and successful.
  • If you experience a challenge or become upset at work, stop for a moment and take a deep breath. Say a prayer like “I prefer peace over this. Thank you, God, for returning me to peace of mind.” Keep repeating that until you feel your peace returning.

These techniques help you build a spiritual environment for yourself in any work situation simply by practicing the awareness of God every day.

The Power of Gratitude 

By Margaret P. Willey
Excerpt from Unity Magazine®.

It has not been the habit of the majority of the human race to think of gratitude as a generator of power. To most of us it suggests a warm, pleasant feeling occasioned by benefits received and an admirable quality to cultivate. Power, however, means to us the ability to do or accomplish. What, we ask, can gratitude do or accomplish? Yet behind it is spiritual law, and in all spiritual law is energy that will work for us when we apply it correctly.

Gratitude is a composite of seeing and feeling, of seeing good, and of feeling a corresponding reaction at the heart or love center. Seeing good is God’s way of seeing. It is creative and brings good into manifestation. The intellect may recognize a thing as good without there being a response at the heart. This, properly speaking, is not gratitude, for which the love reaction is necessary.

One definition of gratitude given by the dictionary is “a sense of appreciation of favors received.” Appreciation implies a nice sense of values; therefore true gratitude has a nice sense of values, is born of the spirit behind the gift. This true gratitude takes no account of the outer value of the gift but of the love that prompts it, and it responds in kind. “And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only; in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you he shall in no wise lose his reward.” …

Through seeing good and meditating upon it and responding at the love center, power and spiritual energy are generated. To make this effective in our life and a blessing to others we must release it. In hoarding it we close the channels to richer benefits and prevent its action in substance, hence it does not bring a substantial increase. Praise is the natural expression of gratitude, the means whereby we release the spiritual power and energy engendered thereby. 

In praise, the result of seeing good, we pour forth the forces of joy, gladness, and goodwill that affect all with whom we come in contact, and set in motion a magnetic current that carries a blessing to all and brings one back the return tide. … So on the ladder of praise we may climb to the higher gratitude, the high state of seeing and feeling absolute good. So may we know that the Father hath given us “all power ... in heaven and in earth.” So may we bring forth all good into manifestation. 

Musicians Nimo Patel and Daniel Nahmod brought together dozens of people from around the world to create this beautiful, heart-opening melody. This video, created within a week by a team of volunteers, shines the light on all the small things that make up the beautiful fabric of our lives. (Used with permission.)

 

 

A Prayer of Gratitude From Silent Unity

As we focus our thoughts on the idea of gratitude, we see the world in a new way, a new light. We are open to Spirit, to new beginnings and new possibilities. What a healing, transforming perspective!

An attitude of gratitude has such a healing quality, for it helps us release every concern, every condition, every aspect of life to God. As we do, our minds and bodies are healed, our relationships are transformed, and our lives become more peaceful and orderly.

With every thought of gratitude, we deepen our receptivity to the blessings of God. When we are thankful, we are attuned to God and the many ways divine light, life, and love work in and through us. When we are grateful, we view life from a higher perspective—a sacred perspective. We see things beyond our human perception, and we gain a new sense that all is well in our lives and in the lives of those we care about.

So how do we develop an attitude of gratitude? We look around us and see the good that fills our lives—even the smallest blessing. We give thanks for our health, our homes, and our families. We give thanks for the friendships we share and the ways in which we can express ourselves through our work, our creativity, our passion for life. We give thanks that we are children of God and that we live in an abundant universe.

With each grateful thought we hold, we develop a more positive attitude about life and open ourselves more fully to the goodness of God. Each grateful thought we hold is a healing balm that transforms our lives.

Through Life's Complexities 

By Rev. Dorothy Pierson

Loving Presence,
Thank You for Your flow
Of life and joy and good,
And thank You
For helping me know
That I have a place and purpose
In Your infinite plan …
That You forever take me
By the hand and lead me
To and through life's complexities.

I talk to You, God. I listen within.
You speak with bright inspiration
In my mind—so natural—
So simply, I find
I think it is my own thinking!
But then as I look back
I see it wasn't me;
It was You all the time!
I realize anew
That I am guided and directed by You
When I listen.

Well Digging

By Mary L. Kupferle

O God, thank You for helping me be a good well digger as I learn the spiritual techniques of digging deep and opening up new wells of life, strength, and healing power.

Within the soul, there are areas that have never been touched—lands of the Spirit we have not yet discovered where wellsprings flow. They flow with life and spiritual strength, healing vigor and vitality, like powerful artesian streams pouring out from a depth we have not fathomed.

In the stillness now, I seek to learn how to open each of these inner wells prepared for me and for everyone. With patience and expectancy, I begin to drill into the depths through words of praise and thanksgiving. I praise God for peace and strength and vigor that are waiting for my touch! “Thank You, God, for the guidance of Your light within me as I search.”

With words of praise and songs of thanksgiving, with faith and declarations of the goodness of God, the hardened crust of limitation and unbelief now gives way. Deep into the soul, the light of Truth proceeds—through layers of the hardest rock of stubborn willfulness, through shelves of stony passiveness, until I wonder if a way will ever open! And then I hear the smallest trickle of spring, and on I press in greater faith and courage until the sound is turned to visibility. Springs begin to flow with strength, bursting through the opened ground within the soul. With joyous release, the sparkling flow of Spirit pours forth and overflows the surface, racing, filling every crack and crevice with its cleansing purity. 

So flow the wellsprings of the life of the Christ in anyone who will but seek and dig, willing to become the humblest digger of a well. Each will find the wellsprings of his or her being and touch the true fountainhead of peace, life, and perfection. 

We can, through prayer, release wells of strength and vigor and renewing life. We can, through silence and consent to God’s goodwill, be strong enough to reach the depths and then relax in power unleashed, revealed. We can let the holy substance of the soul’s heritage pour into every outer phase of being. 

“Seek, and you will find” (Lk. 11:9 NKJV). The search is ours, not God’s. We, with eager, willing hearts, must only begin. And then in joyous, overwhelming measure, the universe within releases all its treasures, pouring out the wealth we had thought was somewhere else. We find it now … right here … within. We will always hear its movement and its promise of response, if we can be still and listen. 

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow! Praise God, the giver of each bountiful well within the soul! Thank You, God, for the privilege of digging wells! 

Big Gratitude

By Mary Earls

It was late June in a dry summer when the dog showed up at the house, looking for water. He found some in a half-full garden bucket under the front deck. He was the biggest dog I'd ever seen: coal black and almost waist high, with a massive chest and enormous head and jaws. I remember thinking my entire hand would fit in his mouth.

The spot under the deck was shady and protected, and the big dog lingered there. I'd see him in the morning as I left for work. In the evening, he'd amble over as I stopped my car in the driveway, putting his nose on the window. The first time it happened, I sat in the front seat, stiff with fear, waiting for the dog to get distracted long enough for me to open the car door, then dash up the front steps and into the house.

At some point I realized the big dog wasn't going to go after me. A softness in his eyes contradicted the message of his powerful body. So I grew bolder. “Get out of here!” I yelled one night. The dog's head lowered, his ears went back, and he slinked away into the brush across the road. But the next morning, he was back under the deck. And that evening he was waiting as I pulled into the driveway.

“He's watching out for me,” I thought. So I began watching out for him. I made sure the water bucket was full. From time to time I grabbed handfuls of kibble from the bag l kept for my two bichons frises and dropped the pellets under the deck. It was a stealth operation—my husband David didn't want another dog.

One Friday night, the deal was sealed. We grilled steaks, tossed salad, opened a bottle of wine, and watched the big dog watch us. By now he was putting his nose on the bay window in front of the kitchen table. As I ate, I noticed the dog's ribs stuck out from his chest. His footpads were torn and bleeding. Flies swarmed around the open sores on his flanks.

I stood up from the table. “He's getting this,” I said, and walked into the front yard with my half-eaten T-bone. The dog took the steak, tail wagging furiously, and devoured it with a few mighty crunches. Then he took my entire hand, put it in his mouth and held it there, ever so gently.

“That's the biggest dog I've ever seen,” David said. “I wonder if we can get him in the car. There's a vet about three miles from here.”

The clerk at the vet's office asked us the dog's name. “He really doesn’t have one,” I said. “We just call him big dog.” When we picked up his tag, it read “Big Dog Earls.”

That was nine years ago. With only a few exceptions, each day since then Big Dog has shared his joy with us. Unity people might say he has an attitude of gratitude. I'd say Big Dog simply is gratitude. His daily demonstration of thankfulness starts first thing in the morning, with the three best words in the English language: let's feed you. It doesn't matter if the stuff in his bowl is Science Diet or the Wal-Mart special. It's all dish-lickin’ good.

Big Dog watches over me, and I watch out for him. Especially now, as his muzzle grays and his gait slows. “You know he's about 77 in dog years,” David said the other night. I think about the flights of stairs he has to climb in the house, his early morning stiffness, and the time when he will lie down and not get up again.

A few days ago we went to the vet’s office for the inevitable conversation, preparing ourselves for the day we have to say “goodbye.” When the time comes, Big Dog’s transition will be pain-free, in gratitude for the good life he has helped create for us.

“You'll know when the time is right,” said Joyce, the vet’s assistant. “You'll see it in his eyes.” We’re not there yet, but the day is coming as surely as winter follows autumn. When it does, there will be lots of petting, the Unity “Prayer for Protection,” a moment in the Silence—then ashes falling gently in a shady, protected place.

As our visit went on, my husband wondered about the next dog. That's when Joyce said, “You guys ought to take a look at the rescue puppy that just came in. He's about 12 weeks old and already weighs 15 pounds—a real butterball.”

The puppy was coal black, with an enormous head and chest, large paws, and soft eyes. He jumped up in David’s lap, his tail wagging. “He's going home with us,” David said.

We named him Little Big Dog.

Being Grateful: The Simple but Powerful Act That Changes Everything

By Bradley Morris
From Unity Magazine®

It is unfortunate how many people allow their negative, fear-ridden thoughts to control their lives and their reality. The truth is we all have the power to take back our minds and direct our energy in a positive way—serving both ourselves and those around us. Gratitude gets us there faster. It’s a major step in unwinding our negative mental habits. 

Anyone who lives their entire life without realizing how precious, miraculous, and unique this life experience is (or without understanding the value of getting present with a grateful heart) can never truly realize what it means to be fully loved. Being fully loved does not require another person to love you. This love is an all-encompassing presence in the here and now, within each of us all the time. It’s a state of receptivity that we can open up to at will with a little practice. When we live in fear for our future or sorrow for our past, we miss it. We walk past the miracle of the moment with a blind eye.

Through gratitude, however, we can access presence. We are able to receive the blessings of being alive. As we open our hearts, aligning our minds and our thoughts with feeling grateful, we are able to witness the true magic of life. This is an indescribable magic unique to each one of us. On the other hand, when we are not aligned with gratitude—when we’re feeling like a victim, complaining about whatever is happening, or blaming others—we cloud our perspective and miss the whole miraculous Universe.

By learning to say, “Thank You” to every experience we have, we move from a place of resistance, where we feel like a victim, to a place of acceptance, where we can be okay with change and eventually even embrace it. This simple act allows us to move forward with our lives in leaps and bounds. Unfortunately, most of the time we’re so caught up in either avoiding pain or just getting through the day that we forget to say to ourselves, Wow! Nature is crazy beautiful. Food tastes delicious. I can be the person I want to be right now. What do I want to experience next?

Instead, we are too busy thinking, How will I ever pay my rent? I hope I don’t look stupid! I wonder if anybody will notice me today. Why do bad things always happen to me? I’m not good enough to have what I want. I don’t know what to do, so I’ll just do nothing. Life is boring. 

What’s up with that? Isn’t it obvious that this moment, this experience we are having on this unique planet in the infinitely expanding Universe, is precious and will never happen again? By digging deep into ourselves and getting over what society wants us to believe is important and instead focusing our energy upon the blessings of simply being here now, we can live much happier, simpler, and more fulfilling lives. By doing this we bless the people we meet with our epically positive vibes.

This isn’t rocket science. It’s just being grateful! Remember, wealth is just a matter of perspective, and if you feel poor, chances are you are not taking enough time to bear witness to the miracle of right hereright now. Stop the crazy mental chatter for a moment and concentrate your thoughts on finding one or two things you can be grateful for—then look for more. This will lift the veil of fear clouding an ungrateful heart so you can see life for what it truly is: one amazing miracle.