January 10, 2016—Day 9 (WD 290)

Sunrise Pages

Greetings, Creator!

Well, there’s not much of the morning left, this morning.  Certainly, not compared to the last couple days.  Nonetheless, I appreciate joining with you, Creator, and opening myself to bright insight and inspiration.

There’s quite a change with today’s weather – the single-digit mornings of last week have yielded to warm air, wind, and rain.  I’m curious to see how much snow and ice cover we have left after today.

Watching the weather and the seasons, for me, is a great reminder of the natural change and flow of things.  Like winter in Salem last year – we actually had very little snow by this time last year, and it was easy to assume we were going to escape with a mild winter.  Then, suddenly, it seemed to snow – a lot – every few days, with bitter cold and no sunshine to provide any kind of melt-off.  The snow kept piling up, and it seemed we’d never have cleared streets and sidewalks.  Eventually, though, spring came, and everything greened up and blossomed.

This Truth – “All Things Shall Pass.”

I get stuck on things, on thoughts, like a lot of people.  This morning, I put jeans in the washing machine.  Then, when we moved the wash to the dryer, we quickly heard an unusual clunking, only to discover my pocket knife making loops with the wet clothes.

This signaled the need for me to check my pockets (which I thought I had emptied).  Sure enough, contents of one pocket were still there (and soggy), including a Sharpie, which luckily hadn’t exploded!  Concerning for me, though, was the disappearance of the pen I always keep in the same pocket.

I’m fairly rigid about keeping and returning that pen to that pocket; so that I don’t forget it and lose it anywhere.  I checked through all the wet clothes, through the dryer and the washer – to no avail.

Perhaps it will turn up eventually in the clothes (hopefully not making a mess in the process).  Maybe I did remove it beforehand, but it would be odd for me to take out one item and leave the rest in the pocket.  Plus, the pen’s not around anywhere.

Or, maybe I lost it in the course of my day yesterday.  Which normally would bug and bother me, and I would perseverate on it; but, today would seem to actually be a blessing by which a whole load of laundry was saved.

Minor miracle?  🙂

I really enjoyed my conversation with my wife, Joy, last night.  I love that we take time to connect and share what things matter to each of us, and how they show up in our daily lives.

Joy had recently shared an article with me, about gratitude being a bit of a fad that encouraged selfishness, by directing non-interactive reflection and development of thoughts that simply helped a person feel better about her/himself, without really doing anything to aid or improve the lives of those we should be grateful to and for.  The author seems critical of the lack of call for activism and solidarity in the practice of gratitude.

I know I don’t agree with the skeptical view I perceive from the author.  I think being mindful of what we have, and giving thanks for it, and those who provide it – whether it’s food, a job, or a roof over our head; kindness, laughter, or friendship – is a critical starting point toward community.  I think connecting with gratitude is a gateway to the activism and solidarity the author is calling for.

Joy and I shared stories last night of what we are grateful for in our new community, and how our openness to give and receive kindness and thanks is manifesting connection and cultivating relationships.  We do not wish to see ourselves as islands.  We have both had times in our lives where we needed to lean on the support and love of our friends.  We recognize that kind of community only exists by planting the seeds of friendship and tending the land long before you might need to harvest the crop.  By being available and willing to be there for others long before you need them to be there for you.

As with many things, I don’t view selfishness versus self-sacrifice as a duality, but as a spectrum.  One end finds a person wholly consumed by what they get; the other is the person who will always do for others, no matter what the cost to her/himself.

I believe there is a balance, somewhere in between.  A balance that, I’m sure, slides and adjusts each day and in each situation.  Ultimately, though, I think it comes down to this –

It’s about doing what you need, without doing harm to others.  At the same time, it’s about doing what others need, without doing harm to yourself.

There is a school of thought that believes that every tradition and religion has its own version of The Golden Rule – “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

I’m not a scholar and have not studied traditions and religions.  But, this seems to me such a fundamental cornerstone of Life and Community, that I think imagine it could be true.  I also believe gratitude can be the first step on that path.

Too much of our current society is about competition, winning versus losing, having versus not having.  Gratitude is a way of understanding what we have, and appreciating the complex relationships that allow and provide their existence in our lives.

Do people spend time just being grateful for their fancy car, their high-earning spouse, and their successful kids?  I don’t doubt it.  In time, though, everybody faces challenges of loss, death, sickness, and lack.  At these times, there’s a new opportunity to learn appreciation for different things.

Which are the right things and wrong things for people to appreciate?  I think there’s room to appreciate all things at some point in one’s life.  I’ve heard my wife appreciate all she learned while battling cancer; I worked with a man who was able to find appreciation for the strength and awareness he gained since his Parkinson’s diagnosis.  I glimpsed my Purpose helping my parents through my Dad’s Alzheimer’s Disease.

I have a friend who was asked to participate in a barn-raising this weekend.  Can you imagine what that might be like?  Unfortunately, this weekend’s weather may have thwarted the event.

To me, this is the reality of community, kindness, and gratitude.  The opportunity to be a part of something bigger than ourselves, to do something that helps others – which does reward us and make us feel good.  It is how we develop trust and a sense of reliability in our relationships – which are the dollars we give and receive in the currency of love.

I’ve heard the description of one’s Joy and Satisfaction being a bucket; and there are things we do that empty our bucket, and things we do that fill our bucket.  I love the metaphor.

But maybe this metaphor works better for you.  Try to see your Satisfaction as your Wallet.  If you think you never have enough in your wallet, and never will, you always do without.

There’s the adage – you have to spend money to make money.  I don’t know how true that is, but I do believe that by sharing and giving the kindness, love, and satisfaction you do have with others, those investments grow and pay dividends.

“It’s A Wonderful Life” comes to mind: the book inscription from Clarence—Remember, George: no man is a failure who has friends.  And, from war hero Harry Bailey—“A toast to my big brother George!  The richest man in town!”

Thanks for your guidance, Great Spirit!

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