Cicero, the 1st Century Roman orator once said: “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.”
The U.S. Holiday of Thanksgiving took place last week, but hopefully we’re not expressing thanks just one day of the year. Daily gratitude is a key to happiness, health, success and balanced living.
So I get to write about it again.
Sometimes people get dejected, or have suffered great loss and find it difficult to find anything to be thankful for.
One of the best spiritual practices I know is to list at least 5 things you are grateful for every night before you go to bed and every morning when you wake up. That can help lift our spirits no matter what is going on.
So my goal today is to help you out by listing things we can express gratitude for – things that we may just take for granted. Things it may not occur to us to be grateful for.
Thanksgiving prayers are common to most religious groups. Native Americans had entire ceremonies just for the purpose of expressing thanks – sometimes these ceremonies last for days.
This Thanksgiving Prayer comes from the Seneca Nation and is at least 500 years old.
It is traditionally done around a fire, with spiritual food on the altar. I have adapted it to be used as a Thanksgiving Prayer on our national holiday:
Seneca Thanksgiving Prayer
And now we are gathered together to remember the Great Mystery’s first instruction to us: to love one another always, we who move about on this earth.
And the Great Mystery said that when even two people meet, they should first greet each other by saying: “Nyah Weh Skenno” which translates to “thank you for being” and then they may take up the matter with which they are concerned.
[Nyah Weh Skenno more literally means: “thank you for being alive in the here and now and not adding to the confusion of the world.]
The Great Mystery gave us our lives and requires in return only that we be grateful and love one another. The purpose of this prayer is to pass on those instructions and give us the opportunity to express our gratitude.
So the first thing we will do is give thanks for our lives.
Learning to see with the eyes of a child might be the best way to bring the magic back into your life.
This past weekend I went to visit my two and a half-year old nephew and spent as much time watching him as playing with him.
He’s at the age where he’s discovering his likes and dislikes and clearly expressing them. The age known as the “terrific twos.”
The “terrific twos” in action
Connor’s vocabulary is increasing week by week, but it seems his favorite word is, “No!”
“Connor, do you want to sing the ABC song?”
“Would you like to show Aunt Molly how you can count?”
“Do you want Aunt Molly to read you a story?”
And so it went.
A devastating typhoon in the Philippines has left tens of thousands dead, injured or homeless.
Current U.N. and Philippine government estimates indicate over 9 million people are affected by Super Typhoon Haiyan [Yolanda] across the country.
620,000 have been displaced from their homes and communities. Many thousands are without food, water, shelter or electricity and have been for days.
The feelings of grief and helplessness on the part of those of us who read about this tragedy are palpable. The world is mobilizing to send humanitarian aid; the U.S. Navy is sending aircraft carriers equipped for disaster relief.
What can we do?
Actually, we can pray. And we can donate money to reputable relief organizations.
This Veterans’ Day post first appeared November 7, 2012. I felt it deserved a repeat.
To me, Veterans’ Day, celebrated this Monday November 11, just isn’t enough to honor what our veterans have done for this country.
Although I am a pacifist, and was an active anti-war activist during the Vietnam War, I was ashamed of the way our veterans were treated when they returned home.
And I am still deeply saddened by the lack of support and care our veterans receive today.
Yes, war is horrendous, and perhaps if women were running the world there wouldn’t be any wars. But those who did their duty and fought for us deserve better than one day to celebrate them.
THE CURRENT CRISIS IN OUR MILITARY CARE
Military suicides are at record levels. Here are some startling statistics:
- More U.S. Military personnel have died by suicide since the war in Afghanistan started than have died fighting the war.
- While veterans account for 10% of all U.S. adults, they account for 20% of U.S. suicides.
- Among all veterans, a suicide occurs every 80 minutes, round the clock.
- While the Pentagon offers a crisis hotline, waits can be long. Earlier this year, helicopter pilot Ian Morrison called the hotline and waited on hold for 45 minutes; his last text to his wife said, “STILL on hold.” He committed suicide later that day.
- It’s not only those seeing combat. Nearly 1/3 of the suicides from 2005 to 2020 were among troops who had never deployed; 43% had deployed only once.
- 95% of military suicides are male.