Meandering Thoughts on Gratitude

Desert Thanksgiving HikeInfinite gratitude for all things past
Infinite service to all things present
Infinite responsibility to all things future*

Thanksgiving is, of course, a day of gratitude.  However, as I consider the words above (which long-time readers here will recognize as the meditation that helps guide my day), I am realizing that being grateful is just a start. What may matter even more than feeling gratitude is what we do with that gratitude.

What is gratitude without service – compassionately doing for others, putting ourselves in their shoes, free from judgment? In those actions, we are, of course, creating the future.  With actions rooted in gratitude, aren’t we more likely to create the kind of future for which we would want to be held responsible?

Which brings us back to the word that is so bandied about on this day of giving thanks – gratitude.

As I consider that word in my own life, I think of it as a fill-in-the-blank, with the blanks being these:  If it weren’t for ________________, I couldn’t have done / been _______________.

If it weren’t for my ex-husband, I wouldn’t have my amazing daughter.

If it weren’t for having a bad back, I wouldn’t remember to exercise as often.

If it weren’t for my dad dying at age 61, my mom would not have moved to Tucson 20 years ago, and she wouldn’t have been such a big part of my life.

It’s easy to be grateful for the things that make life joyful. But if it weren’t for the hard things, the lousy things – I would not have the life I have now.

And so, on this Thanksgiving Day and every day, I will do my best to choose my actions and words as consciously as possible, to create the kind of future for which I would want to be held responsible.  I will do my best to choose my actions and words from a place of wisdom and compassion for everyone I encounter.

And I will do my best to ensure my actions and words reflect my deepest gratitude, bowing to everyone I encounter to say, “If it weren’t for you, I could not be me.”

* When philosopher and theologian Huston Smith asked Zen master Daisetz Suzuki, “What is zen?” the words above were his reply.

This post is part of TweetsGiving,  a global celebration that aims to change the world through the power of gratitude, while supporting the work of an amazing organization doing amazing work in the Tanzanian village of Arusha. Learn  here how you can participate today and every day.

Photo: Our meandering Thanksgiving Hike 2009 (This morning!)

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