Category Archives: Gratitude
As we celebrate Thanksgiving in Canada, may everyone in the world move slowly over the lines on God’s palm with hearts full of wonder and kindness, as Hafiz would have wanted.
Want to step so quickly
Over a beautiful line on God’s palm
As I move through the earth’s
I do not want to touch any object in this world
Without my eyes testifying to the truth
That everything is
Something has happened
To my understanding of existence
That now makes my heart always full of wonder
I do not
Want to step so quickly
Over this sacred place on God’s body
That is right beneath our
I love this time of year, when the Earth’s spin and the tilt of the planet carries us into cooler temperatures, shorter days and colourful leaves. And wool socks. And the smoky aroma of logs burning the fireplace. And cinnamon and nutmeg and cloves.
The cooler weather rejuvenates people. The shorter days give us more time to read. Pumpkin Spice Lattes warm chilled hands. (My daughter works at Starbucks, and she spends much of her time these days preparing Pumpkin Spice Lattes. People love them.)
Most of us love these things without understanding why, but scientists have theories about our affinity for fall. Catherine Franssen wrote about it on Huff Post Science.
According to Franssen, we like “predictable novelty.” In other words, fall gives us the two things we need all in one package: change and stability. It brings change that doesn’t make us anxious, because we know it’s coming. We also associate fall with pleasurable things, like pumpkin pie and walks in fallen leaves. Those pleasurable memories trigger neurotransmitters.
“The neuroscience behind that love is the trifecta of pleasurable neurotransmitters fired: dopamine (pleasure), serotonin (contentment) and norepinephrine (alertness). When all three are going at once, you’re in a heightened state of awareness in a really good way.” —Catherine Franssen
Apparently, many of us float through autumn high on dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine—not to mention cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves—as we eagerly anticipate football victories, Thanksgiving dinners and Christmas parties.
Sounds good to me. I think I’ll have a latte . . .
More food for thought from Bishop Steve Charleston
“We do not know what is around the next corner.
We do not even know what will pass in our lives between sunrise and sunset. Therefore, whether we claim it or not, we live each day in faith.
We believe. We believe in ourselves. We believe in our family. We believe in others who are close to us.
Some of us believe beyond that, to name a loving power that guides us, to walk with others who pray with us. But we all believe, in some way, in our own fashion.
Let that thin thread, that simple affirmation, bind us in a shared respect. We are not strangers in shadows, but believers searching for the light.”
—Bishop Steve Charleston
“If you get a piece of cake and eat the whole thing, you will feel empty. If you get a piece of cake and share half of it, you will feel both full and fulfilled.” —Haitian saying, as told by Lynne Twist in The Soul of Money.
When Lynne Twist referred to the Haitian wisdom above, she did so in a book about money. She used it as her way of saying that a person who hoards surplus wealth—money that, like cake, is not necessary for survival—will never feel like he has enough, and his days will echo with lonely dissatisfaction. But a person who enjoys the benefits of surplus wealth and shares some with others who might not have any “cake,” will remember that she has more than enough, and her days will ring with shared joy.
I believe that to be true, but today I’m talking about actual cake. I don’t eat sweets often. I don’t care for them, really. Instead of dessert, give me another piece of pizza or an extra helping of steak and I’m a happy girl.
Of all the sweets there are in the world, the kind I can most easily pass up without a blink of regret is cake. In fact, I usually eat it reluctantly (people are often insulted if you don’t eat their celebratory cake) and I don’t find it satisfying. In my opinion, cake is wasted calories. What is so darned appealing about a rather tasteless foundation topped with sugary goo? I don’t get it.
But it’s my birthday this weekend. Like it or not, there is extreme societal pressure to have cake at a birthday, even if the person celebrating the occasion doesn’t care for it much.
So, cake I will have. I will eat it, I will happily share it. (Please, take as much as you want!) I will feel both full and fulfilled because I know that cake makes the people I love happy, and that’s the best birthday present I could have.
Oh yes, it is.
My thoughts first turned to the southern hemisphere on Sunday morning when I talked about birthdays with the kids in my Sunday school class. One girl had a November birthday.
Here in Canada, November wins the grey and dreary prize. The weather is cold but without the redeeming value of snow in which to play. The days shorten. The two special days are All Souls’ Day and Remembrance Day, both of which involve death: not times to bring out the noisemakers and party horns.
But I told the birthday girl that in Australia November is the most popular month for weddings. Their November is our June. When I told her this, we both felt a little brighter.
Then I received an email newsletter from the Bolivian Children Foundation. (I witnessed the extraordinary work of this organization when I was in Bolivia, and I like to stay abreast of what they’re doing.) The newsletter began:
“What a great day we are celebrating today – first day of spring . . .”
Seeing the phrase “first day of spring” in September makes North Americans blink. In a country like Canada, where dramatic changes in light and temperature mark the changing seasons, it’s almost beyond our ability to comprehend September as spring.
It’s the first day of spring everyone. Oh yes, it is.
Doesn’t the thought make you feel a little brighter?