Thanksgiving and Gratitude

Thanksgiving and Gratitude

Discussion date: Thu, Nov 28, 2013 at our weekly Thursday evening practice

Dear Still Water Friends,

I’ve always liked Thanksgiving. As Brother David Steindl Rast highlights in the excerpt below, in the simple act of giving thanks, we learn to love and to enliven our lives.

Because of the Thanksgiving holiday, there will be no Still Water sitting on Thursday morning, November 28, in Takoma Park, and no gathering on Thursday evening at Crossings in Silver Spring. However, we will have our regular Friday morning sitting at Crossings in downtown Silver Spring on November 29th. The sitting is from 7 to 8:15 and everyone is invited to breakfast together at a nearby restaurant, after the sitting.

This seems a good moment to say a few words about the gratitude surprise I received on Thursday evening, November 14th. When so many people showed up, so many long-time practitioner friends, I thought it was because it was a great topic and people wanted to be with Annie and Jules, the announced presenters. I was dumbfounded when I was asked to sit in front. Then the practice of gratitude for Mitchell began. It was a river of kind words and remembered moments. Many people talked about feeling heard and seen by me and the community, and feeling that Still Water offers a safe, guilt free, and nurturing environment. Some talked about my willingness to be human and vulnerable in my announcements and programs.

When I founded Still Water 14 years ago, my intention was to create a community that I feel comfortable in, that supports me, with all my challenges, as well as others with their challenges. On my side, it has done that marvelously. I have learned and grown so much. I am gratified and humbled that it has also supported so many wonderful people.

I hope everyone has a gratitude and love-filled Thanksgiving.

A bow to everyone in our extended Still Water community.

Mitchell Ratner

Gratitude is the Pivot on which Love Rests

by Brother David Steindl Rast from Gratefulness: The Heart of Prayer

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.

in: Dharma Topics
Discussion Date: Thu, Nov 28, 2013


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