November Notes on Gratitude

November frost on mostly empty gardens lingers past noon. Bare maple trees scratch deep gray skies. At night I listen to owls on the other side of the river and by day wait for whatever the cold and early dark of winter will bring.

The mind turns to gratefulness.

Who will teach us how to give thanks? Not what we give thanks for but literally how to give thanks? For assuredly, we do not know. One need only give attention to the world – that grim picture of an inside condition (e.g., A Course in Miracles preface xi) – to see this is the case.

I thought aloud about this in yesterday’s newsletter. You can sign up here, if you like.

In The Voice that Precedes All Thought, Tara Singh wrote that “there is something that words cannot communicate / but the spirit of gratitude can” (5).

Recently I was part of a team-building gratitude exercise that relied heavily on language. We talked in very specific ways about gratitude and took notes on the who, what, why, where, when and how of our gratefulness. We shared aloud.

The wordiness was not wrong but it did obscure the deeper dive to which gratitude calls us. This “dive,” says Singh, is a form of interior listening.

The listening within silences thought,
having received what is beyond thought.
If we could listen then we come to silence.
Thought has a place,
for there is the precise and factual thought
that carries the silence with it.
It has the ability to silence.
And one is grateful and appreciative (10).

The emphasis shifts from the external world, which is merely an image made by our projected fear, to the pure light of God, which includes all things, and thus softens our resistance to the end of differences that are the sine qua non of time and space.

Gratefulness does not know a lack.
It trusts in the Will of God
and leaves God’s things to God.
It knows that
for what you are grateful you will never be denied.

All else is duality, fear, and selfishness,
bound to the body and its sensations (11).

It is easy to be thankful for family, shelter and food. It is easy to see how these things are not given to all of us equally, and to work to resolve the inequity. This is human and there is nothing wrong – and much right – with it.

Yet we are called to a deeper awareness of reality. We are called to be witnesses to the one life beyond all appearances, the God-lit clarity of our shared being. This is a gift to us; it is not a thing that we earn or gather or merit. In truth, it already is given. We are simply to busy to notice.

Busy-ness is a form of fear. It doesn’t matter if it’s bending the knee to the demands the world makes or to the psychological demands that we make. All of it merely postpones peace. Busy-ness is the opposite of the stillness in which love recollects itself in us as a present reality shared with all life. We remember our perfection, which excludes no body and no thing, which is how it is perfect.

Gratefulness is the natural effect of this state and, paradoxically, its cause.

When you are in a state of gratefulness,
nothing is external to you.
Gratefulness does not judge
because it sees the One Life (8).

This peace can be known by us in a very real and tangible way. It is neither a future state nor a mystery. It arises when we are humble enough to realize of ourselves we can do nothing and willing enough to remember that with God, all things are possible.

Our remembrance is a gift to us for which we give thanks but, because it knows there is only one life, it is also a gift that we give to the world.

There is nothing arrogant or prideful in this! We can only extend the gift because we see clearly that the separated self is not real and is thus not responsible in any way for the “One Life.” Truly, nothing is at stake.

Your life is blessed then
and your heart sings songs of adoration
of the perfection of God (6).

I wish you much peace and joy this coming week, and thank you for sharing this path with me.

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