The final Thursday of November in the USA is a celebration of family that is observed in the form of the National Holiday called “ThanksGiving”. As the name suggests, it uses two beautiful words ~ Thanks, and Giving ~ and fuses them together, as if two hands are joining together in the traditional Indian greeting of Namaste. As a new international student in the USA, it was the first holiday that I was fortunate enough to experience. My college roommates “host family” welcomed us ~ their “adopted sons” ~ into their home for Thanksgiving Dinner, where we were fortunate enough to enjoy food, laughter and joy in a warm loving environment.
Thank you, Ms Shirley, of Blacksburg, Virginia, for that wonderful experience. You taught us that a warm heart is a beautiful bridge that establishes connections across faiths, across color, across cultures and across countries. It also taught us that a giving of thanks with our hands is a powerful expression of our faith and our beliefs. It brings out the best in those who choose to give, and those who choose to receive. And I am glad that I chose to receive that day, almost thirty years ago.
My first response to that invitation, arising from my introvert nature and newness to the country, was to let my roommate go to the Thanksgiving dinner by himself. It was his “host family”, not mine, was my excuse. But, Ms Shirley insisted to him that she wouldn’t take no for an answer. All the three roommates had to come to dinner. They would come pick us up at the appointed hour. And so it was that three Indian students, barely ten weeks in the USA, ended up sitting around the dinner table with a bunch of Southern Virginia folks whose hearts were as big as the New River valley.
Yes, we often do not know the blessings that we miss out on, when we choose not to receive. One thing that we perhaps miss out on, is the opportunity to say thanks, to express gratitude for receiving. The other thing that we miss out on is to experience the joy that those who give, get in their acts of giving. Imagine, if we had all this abundance that we wanted to share, but there was nobody to share it with! Would we not be denied the joy of giving? What would our communities look and feel like, if we did not or could not share our joy with our neighbors?
For some folks, expressing gratitude to others does not come naturally. In response, they shy away, figuratively and literally, from receiving. They feel that if they are recipients, they may have to reciprocate, even if it is by simply saying thank you. Very often, the giver transfers this expectation of reciprocity, or expectation of gratitude, during their act(s) of giving. However, it is may be useful to remember that the practice of gratitude is as much an attitude of the heart and spirit, as it is an action. This is well summarized as:
Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world. ~ Sarah Ban Breathnach
The purpose of gratitude is to connect us to the power of abundance and the radiance of the infinite power that is at our spiritual fingertips. Perhaps, in simply expressing thanks, through our thoughts, in our actions, in our meditations, we renew the connection to these abundant powers. And, in renewal lies the spirit of all holidays, doesn’t it? A beautiful reminder of the practice of gratitude follows:
We are to be radiant, grateful, buoyant people basking in our blessings and striving cheerfully toward our dreams under the bright and loving sunshine of the Divine. It takes only will and conditioning to enjoy such a life. Let us make the choice to reexamine our attitude and orientation to life, to cultivate a more positive and present pulse. Let us declare: We Shall Practice Joy and Gratitude. ~ Brendon Burchard in The Motivation Manifesto
I invite you to celebrate the “Practice of Gratitude”, and to join us online in our weekly twitter chat, Sunday November 22nd at 9amET / 2pmUTC / 7:30pm India in #SpiritChat. We will talk about the first part of ThanksGiving this Sunday. Next week, we will talk about Giving and Service.
P.S. Our scheduled chat for this week with guest @AAPremlall is rescheduled to a later date. Grateful for Anandi, sending her healing energy, and I look forward to hosting her to talk about “Spiritual Food and Nutrition” 🙂