Thanks + giving.
It strikes me as important to always be thankful, even when it is hard to find anything to be thankful for. Perhaps it is during the hard times in life that it is most important to give thanks. It is easy to be thankful when it seems like everything is falling into place but, when one feels overwhelmed by disappointments, hurts or feelings of failure, it can seem almost impossible. And yet there is always something to be grateful for. I am grateful that I can see. I am thankful that I can walk. I have clean water to drink. I have someplace to live.....Expressing thanks to other people, even for little things, strengthens our bonds to them as family, friends or fellow human beings. Expressing thanks to God strengthens our bond to that loving Power who is greater than we are. God certainly doesn't need us to thank Him. But we need it. When we are giving thanks, we are turning our focus away from our ongoing complaints about the painful realities of our lives and facing the gifts that we have been given. As we start to look more closely at those gifts, we can begin to consciously accept them. In accepting them, we begin to realize that we are loved by the One who gave them to us. Acceptance of love teaches us how we too can be lovers. What could possibly be more important than learning to love and be loved? What could ever strengthen us more for our journey through life's challenges?
After thanks comes giving. Once we have started down the road of accepting the gifts and the love, we discover that we want to be part of that dance. We want to give and we want to love. We may not think we have anything to give or we may think we don't know how to love. Or we may fear that no one wants what we have to give or that no one will accept our love. The reality is that we are always able to give. No matter how little I have, in a material sense or an emotional sense, I can give. I can smile. I can say a kind word. I can put a bread crust out for the birds. If we are not sure that we know how to love, we can open ourselves to being taught by the Source of Love. It is the desire to love that is important. The learning how comes in time, if we are open to the gift of wisdom. We also cannot worry ourselves too much about whether others will accept or respect our love. Certainly on an interpersonal level it is important to protect ourselves emotionally and physically. I am not suggesting opening one's heart, body or wallet indiscriminately. I am talking more about learning to live life in a loving manner. Sometimes that will mean saying yes, sometimes no and sometimes that will mean not saying anything at all. Taking a step down the path of giving may be, for now, as simple as feeding the birds.