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Posted By The Opening the Heart Workshop™
...Teach us how short

our time is;

let us know it in the

depths of our souls.

Show us that all things

are transient,

as insubstantial as

dreams,

and that after heaven and

earth

have vanished, there is

only You.

Fill us in the morning

with Your wisdom;

shine through us all our lives.

Let our hearts soon grow

transparent

in the radiance of Your

love.

Show us how precious

each day is;

teach us to be fully here.

And let the work of our hands

prosper, for our little while.

_______ Stephen Mitchell (a rendering of Psalm 90)

With Love and Respect, Jon

 
Posted By The Opening the Heart Workshop™
Have you ever won the lottery? No, me either. But you have had one of Those Days. I know you have. One of those days when you smell the new-mown grass for the first time in the spring; or when you sat on a sand dune with the warm sun on your face and watched the wind breaking the tops of the waves into a thousand prisms of light; or when you walk past a store and you see the socks you love and never thought you'd find them again anywhere- and they're on sale; or when a stranger does a kindness for you- just because. One of those days when the sun comes out from behind a bank of clouds and the world just seems softer, greener, more hopeful. You can actually feel your heart growing big enough to take it all in and you breathe it deeply inside to the places where light has been dimmed and muted.

I know that you have been graced with one of those days and the memory of it carries us such a long way through the desert times. And, at least for me, what I experience on Those Days is one simple and huge thing: gratitude. And what I do when that feeling holds me is that I express thankfulness. Honestly, it doesn't matter to whom: a parent, a partner, a stranger, God. What matters, I think, is the expression of thanks giving.

I remember years ago feeling this gratitude one day and deciding that I would practice giving thanks every day for my life. And so, the journey began. I don't really remember the date or the season that my intention began. I just remember failing miserably. I would remember weeks after my resolution that I had not remembered, even once.... So, I committed to being aware of the life I'd been given and, again, decided that I would express this gratitude every day. Well, in the months after my rededication, I found that I remembered about a third of the time- pretty discouraging, sleeping through two thirds of my days without giving thanks. But I was not about to give up.

I decided to tie this practice to something I did every day. After all, how many times did I forget to brush my teeth? So before every meal I would just close my eyes and offer a quiet prayer. If I happened to be with someone, I would do this practice privately, to not make anyone else uncomfortable.

Now it is impossible for me to sit for a meal without giving thanks. Years ago I watched the engineers change the course of the river running through downtown Providence. And I learned something that's probably pretty evident to most people: the point at which the river actually changed directions was where the most work hours, cement, scaffolding, etc. were given. But once that was done, once the "habit" was established, the river flowed.

By establishing this new river flow, I came to an interesting awareness: that the experience of gratitude didn't just follow one of Those Days- IT ACTUALLY CREATED THEM! Martin Seligman, Ph.D., the father of Positive Psychology, professor Emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania, suggests that making a daily list of things for which we're grateful; or writing a 300 word letter to someone who has changed our life for the better, and actually delivering it to that person, will make you "happier and less depressed one month later".... He guarantees it! With Love and Respect, Jon

jon

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