November is synonymous with Thanksgiving. It's when we turn our thoughts to getting together with family. When I was a young child we'd always go to my Mamaw and Papaw's farm for Thanksgiving. I remember going down the gravel road a few miles to pick out our live turkey from another farm. Then we moved north when I was 11 and we'd sometimes go to my grandmother and grandfather's house but more than likely my mother hosted Thanksgiving. Now that I think about it, I wonder why we didn't go to my mother's mother's on Thanksgiving like we did my father's mother. I can't ask my mother because she's been gone now 20 years just after Thanksgiving that year, but this year her death date falls on Thanksgiving. This is what I've been thinking about while looking at the view outside my kitchen window this month. . . . .
Once our children were in school we were not able to travel to be with family on Thanksgiving. They all lived too far away, so I started hosting Thanksgiving and often extended family would come here. It's been 30 years now except for one year that I've hosted. That one year away made me realize it wouldn't feel like Thanksgiving unless I had it in my own home, so now I'm OK with always hosting it.
I usually ask people at my table what they are thankful for, but this year I'm expanding the whole idea of what it means to be blessed. Alan Cohen, in The Dragon Doesn't Live Here Anymore says, "Appreciation and blessing are one and the same....Everything is already completely blessed...What we can do, however is to see, or appreciate the God-inflused blessedness in the person or object." Each November Cohen says he makes a list of everything in his life he's grateful for. There are three categories: 1) the loving and caring things people have done for him; 2) the hardships and challenges that have made him strong as he's had to overcome them because they've brought him closer to God; 3) his abilities or skills that God gave him to be creative and expressive through which he can make some kind of contribution to the world. He says this lists makes him realize the abundance in his life.
So, my question for you this month is 1) what loving and caring thing has someone done for you? 2) what hardship or challenge has made you stronger this year because it brought you closer to God? 3) what ability or skill has God given you that has enabled you to make a contribution to the world? Please choose at least one of your answers to share with the rest of us. More if you want to! Don't be modest about #3! It's not bragging if you've been asked. ☺
I want to share the rest of what Cohen had to say in his essay. You could say this is my contribution to the world--this Blog so I can pass along his wisdom......
"The people who are successful are those who are grateful for everything they have...The more we appreciate, the more we will find to appreciate. 'To him that hath, more shall be given.' (Luke 8:18) .....All we can do in condemning anything is to uphold and increase our own sense of separation and loneliness, which is the sole root of our desire to curse anything...We can control the amount of happiness in our lives, simply by training our minds to focus on that which is good, beautiful, and true.....we must appreciate ourselves....God made each of us with the intention to bless the world through us....Your growth is but an adjustment of consciousness, a change in your perception of the Source of your life. The first petal of spiritual awakening is wonder...You relieve yourself of fabricated expectations when you see that God has an expectation for you which far outshines your small idea of what you can do with Love......your ministry....is your power to heal and to bless through supportive words and acts....As your sense of appreciation expands, great wonders are made known to you...Be childlike in your enjoyment of what is given to you...."
And finally. . . .
Be childlike in your enjoyment of what is given to you!
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