Gratitude for the Work of Loving the World (Thanksgiving Meditation) …

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.
Melody Beattie

One morning I went to a place beyond dawn
A place where sweetness flows and is never less
I have been shown a beauty beyond imagining …
We are made of the sky’s cloth
and every thing is soul and flowering!
I open and fill with love,
and what is not love evaporates.
— Rumi from The Book of Love: Poems of Ecstasy and Longing

Gratitude isn’t a tool to manipulate the universe or God. It’s a way to acknowledge our faith that everything happens for a reason even if we don’t know what that reason is.
— Melody Beattie from 52 Weeks of Conscious Contact

Life is as infinitely great and profound as the immensity of the stars above us. One can only look at it through the narrow keyhole of one’s personal existence. But through it one perceives more than one can see. So above all one must keep the keyhole clean.
— Kafka from Conversations with Kafka

We have a spiritual practice of thinking of a fire hydrant as a saint – it’s standing there waiting to be of service. It’s a way to start reframing our relation to all the everyday things around us.

 

All experience strips us of much except our sheer strength of mind, of spirit.
All experience reveals that upon these we must not finally depend.
Brooding over us and about us, even in the shadows of the paradox,
there is something more –
There is a strength beyond our strength, giving strength to our strength.
Whether we bow our knee before an altar or
Spend our days in the delusions of our significance,
The unalterable picture remains the same;
Sometimes in the stillness of the quiet, if we listen,
We can hear the whisper in the heart
Giving strength to weakness, courage to fear, hope to despair.
— Howard Thurman from Meditations of the Heart

Messenger

My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird —
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,

which is mostly standing still and learning to be
astonished.
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all the ingredients are here,

which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.
— Mary Oliver from Thirst

The Gardener

Have I lived enough?
Have I loved enough?
Have I considered Right Action enough, have I come to any conclusion?
Have I experienced happiness with sufficient gratitude?
Have I endured loneliness with grace?

I say this, or perhaps I’m just thinking it.
Actually I probably think too much.

Then I step out into the garden,
where the gardener, who is said to be a simple man,
is tending his children, the roses.
— Mary Oliver from A Thousand Mornings

Where Does the Dance Begin, Where Does It End?

Don’t call this world adorable, or useful, that’s not it.
It’s frisky, and a theater for more than fair winds.
The eyelash of lightning is neither good nor evil.
The struck tree burns like a pillar of gold.

But the blue rain sinks, straight to the white
feet of the trees
whose mouths open.
Doesn’t the wind, turning in circles, invent the dance?
Haven’t the flowers moved, slowly, across Asia, then Europe,
until at last, now, they shine
in your own yard?

Don’t call this world an explanation, or even an education.

When the Sufi poet whirled, was he looking
outward, to the mountains so solidly there
in a white-capped ring, or was he looking

to the center of everything: the seed, the egg, the idea
that was also there,
beautiful as a thumb
curved and touching the finger, tenderly,
little love-ring,

as he whirled,
oh jug of breath,
in the garden of dust?
— Mary Oliver from Why I Wake Early

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Thanksgiving Prayer

Nurturing Mother,
who brings comfort to the lost, lonely and to the self-sufficient,
Our anxiety for the losses in our world has been high these last few weeks. Our questions bring us to our knees. Do you really know each hair on our head? Have you counted of every blade of grass? Slow us for a few hours so that we can count the grasses with you. Reposition our hearts and minds so that the world glows with life-giving mystery again. Rather than a moment of attending to your Presence, use as long as it takes to remind us that your creation is good and your wisdom is merciful and just. Make us people of prayer, saturated in your compassionate love to respond with thanksgiving for this life and the next. Amen.
Janet Salbert

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