Dear Still Water Friends,
I’ve always liked the spirit of the Thanksgiving holiday. It is a time to be with friends and family; a time to sit, eat, and appreciate the many gifts we have received. Everyone is welcome. No one is excluded because of the religion they practice, or what they care about, or how they look, or who they love, or where they were born.
Because so many of us will be traveling or with friends and families, we will not have our evening program at Crossings on Thursday, November 24, 2016. However, we will have our regular Thursday morning groups in Ashton and Takoma Park, Maryland. Beginning Friday the Still Water groups will resume their regular schedule.
Wherever you are for Thanksgiving, you may wish to share, or say silently to yourself, the Five Contemplations we say before meals at our Still Water events:
This food is the gift of the whole universe – the earth the sky, and much hard work.
May we eat in mindfulness so as to nourish our gratitude.
May we transform our unskillful states of mind and learn to eat with moderation.
May we take only foods that nourish us and prevent illness.
We accept this food to realize the path of understanding, love, and joy.
And we may wish to eat mindfully. Thich Nhat Hanh explains:
When we are mindful, we know that the food we eat comes from the cosmos, nature, and all living beings. If we can touch even one piece of fruit with our eyes and our mindfulness, we show our gratitude and experience great joy. If we look at our food for just half a second before putting it into our mouth and chewing it mindfully, we see that one string bean is the ambassador of the whole cosmos. This is the practice of being in touch. (From The Mindfulness Bell, Issue #6).
In the excerpt below Brother David Steindl Rast notes that in the simple act of giving thanks we learn to love and to enliven our lives.
I am very grateful to everyone, near or far, in our Still Water community.
May you have a joyous Thanksgiving.
Gratitude Is The Pivot On Which Love Rest
From Gratefulness: The Heart of Prayer by Brother David Steindl Rast
We grow in love when we grow in gratefulness. And we grow in gratefulness when we grow in love. Here is the link between the two: thanksgiving pivots on our willingness to go beyond our independence and to accept the give-and-take between giver and thanks-giver. But the “yes” which acknowledges our interdependence is the very “yes” to belonging, the “yes” of love. Every time we say a simple “thank you,” and mean it, we practice that inner gesture of “yes.” And the more difficult it is to say a grateful “yes,” the more we grow by learning to say it gracefully. This sheds light on suffering and on other difficult gifts. The hardest gifts are, in a sense, the best, because they make us grow the most.
We know that our deepest joy springs from living in love. The key to that joy is the “yes” which love and gratefulness have in common. Thanksgiving is the setting in which that “yes” is most naturally practiced. This makes gratefulness a school in which one learns love. The only degrees one receives in that school are degrees of aliveness. With every “yes,” one relationship or another grows deeper and broader. And aliveness can only be measured by the intensity, depth, and variety of our relationships. If the fullness of gratitude which the word grate-ful-ness implies can ever be reached, it must be fullness of love and fullness of life.