This is # 103 of my weekly blog/newsletter to finish its second year. And I have saved the best to finish this second year. My guest writer is my wife, Phyllis. As you read her words of encouragement and wisdom you will experience a refreshing drink of life as we begin a season with the potential for great joy and fullness. Enjoy!
The colors and crisp cool temps of fall have finally arrived in NC and I am one of the season’s biggest fans. In our family, we have birthdays and anniversaries throughout the month and of course, there is the national day of eating (aka Thanksgiving).
The holiday of Thanksgiving is intended to create pause and time for reflection. A time to offer words and expressions of gratitude for the abundance we have. We open our tables to friends and family and often to those who may be alone. We create a time for meaningful sharing.
However, the reality is that the day can be reduced to hours of food prep, food partaking, and digital entertainment of various and sundry types.
How do we slow down to actually experience the giving of thanks? What is gratitude, really, and why does it matter in our lives?
I have always been drawn to the concepts of gratitude and abundance and, even as a child, I loved listing all the things I loved and was thankful for. As an adult, I found that I was stirred to be thankful for even the smallest things and that doing so created a sense of joy and hope in challenging times.
Early in 2011, I began an intentional journey to discover and uncover the depths and treasure that could be found in the practice and habit of gratitude. The most helpful tool in this journey was the book, One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp. I have read and re-read this beautiful work several times and would like to share two of the priceless nuggets I gleaned from those pages.
When November arrives, life takes on the feel of a speeding train and this season that I adore can become just a blur on the way to Christmas, winter, and the start of a new year.
One of the secret powers of gratitude is the ability to slow time and allow “in the moment” living to be a true experience and not an elusive chase.
Here is what I learned: If life is so fast and busy, that there is no time for giving thanks, there is also no time for what life really is~ a gift, each and every day.
Ann states it this way, “ Life is so urgent that it necessitates living slow.”
The best analogy to unlock what this means is a food analogy, so apropos for “national eating day”. It takes 20 minutes after eating for our stomachs to recognize fullness. We often do not appreciate that we are satisfied. We think we want more because we outpaced our fullness with speed.
How long does it take my heart and soul to recognize that my life is full? Am I missing awareness of gifts all around me by moving faster than I can see?
We have this ‘internal pacer’ that longs for presence in the moment and we inherently know that speed just blurs the view and misses the beauty. But how to slow down?
I discovered that I slow down by paying attention, by seeing and naming the gifts in my life right at this moment. Mindful attention sharpens my focus and I ‘feel full’. When I know that I am full, I slow to the moment and find deeper joy with what I have. I do not have to speed up to get more.
Another secret power of gratitude is an awareness that the gifts all around me are not just the new, shiny and unblemished things. I came to know that they are also the well-worn and cherished things. At times they are the difficult things and the broken things.
Not everything that is broken needs to be replaced. The words spoken by Leonard Cohen are a true mark of gratitude:
When the light gets in and we slow down enough to be satisfied with the gifts right in front of us, we find joy living with the speed of gratitude.
Coaching moment – how can you slow down to feel full of gratitude this week?
Have a truly Happy Thanksgiving! Jim