We have a unique tradition at this church that I’ve never seen before and it’s a unique tradition I have come to love. Many years ago, one of the ministers implemented a season of gratitude that takes place right before Advent. So for seven Sundays right up until the first Sunday of Advent in December, we focus on cultivating gratitude in every area of our lives.
Being a contemplative at heart, I have learned and implemented tons of spiritual practices in my own life and teach them to others. Gratitude practices, such as a using a gratitude journal, are overly emphasized so they began to feel a bit hackneyed and cliché to me. It lost its novelty, charm and I would even say, power. I didn’t even like preaching about it because I assumed others felt the same way, clearly projecting my own feelings onto them.
But for some reason, as October begins, I find myself returning back to this practice I learned many years ago. Perhaps it’s the cooler weather and the holiday season in the air or the fact that we’re focusing it on it more at church. Regardless, it is giving me so much joy to continually name those things I love in this life.
My favorite way to engage in this practice is just by setting aside a good ten minutes every morning and write whatever comes to mind using stream of consciousness.
So on this cold early morning, here is what I am so, so, utterly thankful for:
writing during this cold dark morning in silence with a cup of hot coffee next to me
the holiday season, the pumpkins all around the neighborhood, spices and holiday flavored hot drinks
sweaters and scarves
warmth and community
talking with coworkers in the coffee room
fresh eggs with toast and butter
my beautiful kitchen that I put a lot of special care and attention to decorating
the sound of my son’s giggles, his serious concentration face when he watches TV
everything about my husband, the way he smells, his touch, how he fathers
evening meetings and connecting with people over logistical items while weaving in parts of our personal lives
chatting with a colleague longer than I would normally because we got caught up in a subject we’re both interested in
pacing myself and doing everything slowly and patiently rather than in my normal rushed way
my cute winter pajamas and wool socks I’m wearing now
the upcoming holiday season, celebration and rich food
staff meetings, our collaboration and friendship
leading and guiding the staff and helping us to align with a vision and enact that vision
the way my son looks when he is asleep
the way he looks when he wakes up
breakfast with friends
buying plane tickets
creating an environment of fun and celebration in my home for my family
the way my son yells “pumpkin!” every time he sees one
the ability to write, think, imagine, create
the ability to choose
the privilege of teaching and helping others
the privilege of being taught by others
Do it for yourself. Set aside ten minutes and write anything and everything you are grateful for. See what comes out.