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Gratitude is a word that is used often but living out is what allows each person to live with an unconditional and expansive outlook on life. Life is not always promised to be pleasant, desired, or going our way but rather that we have a fullness within our lives that carries us through the entire experience of it.
Gratitude offers us what we need to survive difficult times, appreciate our gifts and the gifts of others and in some ways, a slowing down to see new things emerging in the midst of a real life.
When things are difficult or feel too much to handle, predictable or uncertain, this is when we need gratitude the most. Gratitude can calm us, reduce fear, open our minds to greater clarity, open our hearts to greater love and help us feel grounded in our purpose and intentions. Gratitude cannot save us from sickness or suffering, but it can change how we experience sickness, and it may change our relationship to suffering.
How might gratefulness impact what we do, how we do it, and who we are during this time?
Here are some possibilities:
Reflect on Caring — Reflect with gratitude on the sacrifices of front-line workers. Notice the many ways you can orient your attention to notice all the ways that people are caring for fellow human beings around the globe.
Creating a New Ritual — Consider making a sacred ritual of washing your hands, welcoming the opportunity to meditate on your blessings.
Keep In Touch — If steering clear of events or planned events are being canceled, might this be an opportunity to connect by phone, text or email with family, friends, and neighbors to see how they’re doing? Keep in touch and offer connection in all the ways that you can.
Give More — Extend compassion to others as you may not know their situations. Recognize that people’s health and livelihoods are in jeopardy and nervous systems are taxed. Support local businesses struggling. Consider making a donation in someone’s honor or buying a gift certificate.
See the Blessings — In the midst of a focus on how much is being lost, keep noticing all the blessings that remain. Allow yourself to appreciate and be in awe of what is available to you.
And finally we offer you this poem currently being shared widely on social media:
What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.
Promise this world your love–
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.
— Lynn Ungar 3/11/20
When life becomes more trying and challenging, may each of us discover the gifts of gratefulness, and the promise of our love — for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, so long as we all shall live.