Recent scientific studies show what religious traditions have known for a long, long time. The practice of gratitude leads to health both physical and spiritual. Giving thanks fosters connection. It not only connects us to other people but it also has a spiritual dimension. When we are grateful, we recognize that we are not alone. We find there are others and a power in the Universe which cares for us. The practice of being grateful for simple things--a beautiful sunset, the muted November colors, an email from a friend, a cup of tea or a new microbrew--connects us to the holy dimension of our lives. By pausing and giving thanks, we find the goodness inherent in simple pleasures.
Giving thanks is relatively easy in good times but when you have lost a loved one or are struggling in some way, gratitude can be a challenge. And yet, the practice of gratitude is especially healing in times of struggle. When we can find something or someone to be grateful for in the midst of suffering, we are able to momentarily connect with the Universal, the More that surrounds us. St. Paul, facing imprisonment and death from the Roman authorities, wrote,
"In everything give thanks." For what Paul knew is that we do not know the final outcome of any situation. Giving thanks even in times of struggle can help us to see beyond the moment into the inherent goodness in life, the pull life us towards life, health, wholeness.
We have one week until Thanksgiving. Try, if you will, a simple gratitude practice for just this week. At the close of each day list five experiences, people, places or things for which you are grateful. It will lift your spirits.
See you Saturday at the Highlands Holiday Marketplace!