|Election. Gratitude. TOC. View this email in your browser|
|Photo by Gerd Altmann at Pixabay|
|November 2020 Newsletter As I write this newsletter the Blue Moon is full. Trick or Treaters are out social distancing and wearing Halloween masks. And there are lines at all the early voting locations. Quite a busy time everywhere. But nowhere is it more busy than in the battle of light and dark forces. We all search for a Luke Skywalker type hero who will save the day as Darth Vader and his storm troopers invade the planet. But this isn’t a movie. This battle is all too real. Yes, these ARE “interesting times”. None of us know for sure what will happen this week, but before the election happens, I wanted to come to your inbox to say have faith. Whatever happens, don’t loose your cool, your faith or your center. Stay calm and peaceful for in order to handle anything that comes our way, we must keep our center and stay filled with peace. Whatever happens, breathe. And remember to love. The dark forces are seeking to divide us, to pit us against each other. Let’s not go there. Let us be kind. Let us allow for differences. Let us honor each other’s right to our beliefs. Let us discuss, not berate. Let us listen to each other. Let us love each other. Let us remember we are more alike than we are different. Let us remember we all want pretty much the same thing.: shelter, food, love, security, fulfillment. Let us remember where we come from and where we are going. Let us find where we are more alike than we are different. And most of all, let us value our core moral values like Truth, Compassion, Kindness, Forgiveness, Faith, Honor, Respect, and so many others. This election will come and go. But we will still have the same friends and family. Treasure them. |
“If someone succeeds in provoking you, realize your mind is complicit in the provocation.”
November is the time for our Thanksgiving in the USA, my favorite Holiday! I love that we have a holiday just to give thanks for all we have. It is easy to overlook our blessings when we are wrapped up in the minutiae of our lives or in the big things going on around us. Take time this year to really feel the gratitude for all the good things we have in our lives.
A long time ago I read a book by Corrie Ten Boom entitled The Hiding Place. It takes place in the Netherlands during WWII and is about a family who hides Jews as they are being smuggled out of the country. They are caught and Corrie and her sister are interned at a concentration camp.
Corrie somehow smuggles a tiny Bible into their barracks and the whole group of women in the barracks are supported emotionally by the reading of it every night. The guards never come in and they never get caught which turns out to be an amazing gift to them. The reason, though, that the guards avoid their barracks is because of a terrible infestation of fleas. Do the women complain? No, they are grateful for the fleas because they give them the freedom to talk and pray and uplift one another.
Imagine being grateful for fleas. This book changed my entire concept of gratitude.
May your Thanksgiving be filled with gratitude.
Photo of fall leaves by Ken Klancnik
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“I do not agree with what you have to say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
Evelyn Beatrice Hall
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Gratitude and Generosity
Inspired by One Simple Act by Debbie Macomber
I have written extensively about gratitude over the years and have had a gratitude practice for ages but it wanes at times and I admit to being inconsistent with it. By inconsistent, I mean I don’t always do it the same way day after day but I vary it. There is rarely a day I don’t do something at all about gratitude, even if it is only giving thanks for our food.
But Debbie Macomber writes eloquently about how important it is to have an “attitude of gratitude” before we even begin to think about generosity. Because to her, it is the foundation of giving.
In the first chapter she mentions one of my all time favorite books, The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten-Boom. In the book Corrie tells us of how she and her beloved sister hide escaping Jews in Holland and are eventually found out, placed in Ravensbruck, and end up in a barracks designed for 400 people but jammed with 1400. They have a forbidden Bible with them hidden in their barracks and it is this Bible that they all turn to and read from to sustain their spirits while in this horrid place.
Of course the barracks becomes contaminated with fleas, who bite and chew on the inhabitants relentlessly. It is Corrie’s sister who insists they all be grateful for the fleas because their presence is what keeps the guards from inspecting the room, thus preserving the presence of their Bible. Corrie resists this for a while but later realizes her sister is right, and begins to give thanks for the fleas.
“Fleas” in our own lives can be any one of a number of inconveniences, disappointments, things we don’t like or want in our lives. But to Corrie, and to Ms. Macomber, “Fleas” are things that appear in our lives to help us, not hurt us. We are not meant to judge the wisdom of nature or the will of God but find the silver lining in things and trust that all in the end will be well.
Ms. Macomber highlights the research on gratitude by R.A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis, and M. E. McCullough of the University of Miami. These researchers found that those who kept a gratitude journal “exercised more regularly, reported fewer illness symptoms, felt better about their lives as a whole, and were more optimistic about the upcoming week…..” p. 14
She also states on pp. 15-16 the findings of Stephen Post, PhD. and professor of bioethics at Case Western Reserve University’s School of Medicine. He found the following 5 things that gratitude does:
- Gratitude Defends (increases your body’s natural antibodies)
- Gratitude Sharpens (helps our brain focus and helps avoid depression)
- Gratitude Calms (which in turn helps our blood pressure and heart rate)
- Gratitude Strengthens (helps us in stressful conditions: think of the Fleas)
- Gratitude Heals. (when we are sick, we can heal faster when we focus on gratitude)
Ms. Macomber states: “When gratitude becomes a habit, then generosity seems to follow naturally.” P.15 So giving becomes a natural outgrowth of our gratitude practice.
GIVING AND GENEROSITY:
Here is a basic truth about generosity:
“Cultivating the habit of good deeds will not only affect those around us, it will improve our own emotional well-being” p.49
TO BE CONTINUED……
We will address GIVING in the December issue of our newsletter. Meanwhile Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy your gratitude practice!