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Contemplative Leadership


When Moments of Gratitude Touch Your Heart



I hope this post finds you well.

I invite you to journey with me, welcoming this holy holiday season, exploring the deep meaning of gratitude that the holiday reflects ...


... opening us to the good and to the challenging ... the experiences which help us grow ...


... our well-being that is intricately woven into the tapestry of life's interrelationships, where empathy, understanding, and love form the profound threads that sustain us all.




I am grateful now at year end ... in having completing my training in Ignition Spiritual Companionship and now studying Buddhist compassion. I am grateful for a sense of an emotional and intellectual ripening yet to be explored and experienced.


I am grateful for the those who have accompanied me along this journey - my wife, my children and family members, and to be a part of their lives as they are navigate their own way. I am grateful for my teachers, companions, students, friends, and the virtual communities of groups, alliances and colleagues in which I participate, some for more than 50 years.


I am grateful for the words of Thich Nhat Hanh, writing in Living Buddha, Living Christ, telling of the need we have, as humans, for community (60-61):


When we work with mindfulness … we touch the ultimate dimension of reality … it helps very much to have a community in which all members are sharing the same practice. In fact, it is crucial to have a Sangha or a church in which everyone practices together, or dwells together mindfully in the Spirit. We need to create such communities for our own benefit.



This brings me to Beth Bartlett who I met through a course from the Spiritual Directors International (SDI) on Feminist Perspectives on Spiritual Companionship and Direction, in which she was a presenter. I have followed her blog since.

In her post:  On "Braiding Sweetgrass" by Robin Wall Kimmerer, she writes about gratitude and the earth:

Which brings me to the practice of gratitude.  In Braiding Sweetgrass, Kimmerer shares the Haudensaunee daily practice of offering gratitude to the living world in “the Words that Come Before All Else.”  Each day begins with the giving of thanks – “ . . . to our Mother the Earth, for she gives us everything that we need for life . . . , to all the waters of the world . . . , to all of the Fish life . . , to the Plant life . . ., the Food plants . . . , the Medicine Herbs . . . , the Trees . . . ., the beautiful animal life . . . , the birds . . . , the Four Winds . . . , the Thunder Beings . . . , the Sun . . . ,  to our oldest Grandmother, the Moon,  . . ., the Stars . . . , the enlightened Teachers . . . , The Creator, or Great Spirit . . . . and all the gifts of Creation” (108-115).

Each one is named, and their gifts acknowledged in lyrical detail.  On those days I remember, offering “the Words that Come Before All Else” has become an important practice for me, as I recall and give thanks for all the ways in which earth, water, plants, animals, stars, and spirit in all of their various forms and manifestations bless my life every day. Doing so fills my life with deep gratitude and appreciation and is also an important reminder to me every day to do what I can to return the gift.


Bartlett also writes of reciprocity as 'the very basis of our kinship with the world - the foundation of life'. Reciprocity is seen in the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide between us and our forests, in the value we receive for our labor, in a smile for a smile. These are gifts so common in our lives that we might easily forget our gratitude.


The holiday is a time to pause, to breathe, to reflect on our gratitude. I stop to look up at the rain, and feel its gentle fall on my face - I sense gratitude in an exchange for the rain.



Photos by r.b.raymond





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Dec 24, 2023
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Happy Holidays! I am glad that you have found a comfortable place in your journey. Lou & Flo

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