Dear Still Water Friends,
The theologian Henri Nouwen notes in The Return of the Prodigal Son:
Gratitude goes beyond the ‘mine’ and ‘thine’ and claims the truth that all of life is a pure gift. In the past I always thought of gratitude as a spontaneous response to the awareness of gifts received, but now I realize that gratitude can also be lived as a discipline. The discipline of gratitude is the explicit effort to acknowledge that all I am and have is given to me as a gift of love, a gift to be celebrated with joy.
This Thursday evening, we will have the program that was planned for the eve of Valentine’s Day, and was then cancelled because of snow. After our meditation period, we will reflect together on individuals who have deeply touched our hearts: people who have loved, supported, and helped us, who were there for us in times of need, or who shared our joys and accomplishments with us.
Then, following a recommendation by Thich Nhat Hanh, we will express our gratitude to someone in writing:
Don’t just go to the other person and say. "I’m grateful you are there." That is not enough. You can do this later. Right at that moment, it is better to withdraw into your room or to a quiet place, and immerse yourself in that feeling of gratitude. Then write down your feelings, your gratitude, your happiness.
Still Water will provide greeting cards, envelopes, and colored writing instruments to help each of us artfully write the words that are in our heart. (If you like you can also bring paper and art supplies to use and share with others.) We will close the evening with a circle of appreciation.
You are invited to be with us. If you are not able to be with us, you are invited to create cards of gratitude at home.
Below is an excerpt on Gratitude by Thich Nhat Hanh, which includes the sentences quoted above, and also, brief quotes from five other writers.
Please consider joining the Still Water community in one of the upcoming special events listed below.
We are grateful you are part of the Still Water community.
Mitchell Ratner and Carlos Munoz
Moment of Gratitude, Moment of Enlightenment
by Thich Nhat Hanh, from Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames
There are moments when we feel very grateful for the other person in our life. We deeply appreciate his or her presence. We are full of compassion, gratitude, and love. We have experienced moments like this in our life. We feel so grateful that the other person is still alive, that she is still with us, and has stood by our side during very difficult times. I would suggest that if such a moment happens again, take advantage of it.
To truly profit from this time, withdraw to a place where you can be alone with yourself. Don’t just go to the other person and say. "I’m grateful you are there." That is not enough. You can do this later. Right at that moment, it is better to withdraw into your room or to a quiet place, and immerse yourself in that feeling of gratitude. Then write down your feelings, your gratitude, your happiness. In half a page or one page, do your best to express yourself in writing, or record yourself on tape.
This moment of gratitude is a moment of enlightenment, of mindfulness, of intelligence. It is a manifestation from the depths of your consciousness. You have this understanding and insight in you. But when you get angry, your gratitude and love do not seem to be there at all. You feel as if they have never existed, so you have to write them down on a sheet of paper and keep it safely. From time to time, take it out and read it again.
The Heart Sutra, a scripture that is chanted daily by many Buddhists, is the essence of the Buddha’s teachings on wisdom. What you have written is a Heart Sutra because it comes from your heart—not from the heart of a Bodhisattva or the Buddha, but from your own heart. It is your Heart Sutra.
"Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am grateful that thorns have roses." — Alphonse Karr
"He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has." — Epictetus
"We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures." — Thornton Wilder
"At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us." — Albert Schweitzer
"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them." — John F. Kennedy