Thursday, December 1, 2011
Now that this Thanksgiving holiday has passed, I've been reflecting on the true meaning of thanksgiving as a spiritual quality of the soul. Abdu’l-Baha says “Be thou happy and well-pleased and arise to offer thanks to God, in order that thanksgiving may conduce to the increase of bounty.” Bounties are gifts from God, which rain ceaselessly upon us, we have only to open our hearts to receive these gifts. So maybe when we are grateful for the things we have, both spiritual and material, we are opening our lives for even more bounties. And what better way to celebrate this showering of life’s gifts then a reflection of one’s own blessings?
Below is a list of five things I am thankful for. And, dearest reader, I cordially invite you to join in and comment with a few of the things you are thankful for as well. :)
1. Creativity and the Arts--There is nothing more effective in helping to reflect upon my life, to unwind, to feel spiritually connected. When painting especially, I can forget about all the thoughts which burden my heart and delve into a watercolor painting. There is only the smell of wet paint on thick paper and the sound of my concentrated breathing…this is true clarity of mind.
2. Bluebirds in the winter--It’s easy to feel the winter “blues”, but the raspy calls of Mountain and Western Bluebirds as they fly in flocks of twenty or more lighten my heart a little. They remind me that splashes of vibrant color can be found in even the coldest and dreariest of times.
3. Spiritual Tests--When a soul is given heart-wrenching tests, it grows like a flourishing jungle plant. It’s this maturation of the soul and intense growth that leads to true happiness.
4. The Human Soul--We are loaded with potential, especially when we choose to live with a spiritual conscience. There are so many spiritual qualities to be developed. I imagine it’s like walking into a rainforest and being overwhelmed by the number of birds and animals. It awakens a sense of adventure, I would want to find every creature and sketch it. And with the soul, I want to find every spiritual quality and develop it.
5. A World Family-- I once listened to a CD of a talk by William Sears* in which he explained that the many individuals in our lives are like letters from the Creator. Every human brings with them messages and lessons for others. There are those in our lives whom we feel are tests, and those whom we feel immediately at ease with. Both are teaching us priceless life lessons. We are all beautiful letters to each other from God, no matter what the envelope or outer form.
*For those not familiar, William Sears (1911-1922) was a Hand of the Cause of God. He wrote many books and gave many talks on Baha’i subjects. The Hands of the Cause of God were appointed as sources of wisdom in the Baha’i community. We now have Counsellors who fulfill a similar function.