Monday, November 30, 2015

The Link between Gratitude and Generosity

The first habit Ed Bacon talks about in The Eight Habits of Love is generosity. What I did not expect was how closely gratitude is linked to generosity.

I am not a morning person. Motivation to get out of bed is hard to find, I always want a few more minutes of sleep or dozing or even lying there cozy under the blankets. Ugh, getting up.

After reading the chapter on generosity, I woke to my usual grumbling internal monologue and thought, no, wait a minute, and mentally listed several several things to be grateful for, very basic things like a roof over my head, hot water for a shower... The grumbles were gone and I was out of bed and headed into my day with extra energy.

Ann Voskamp also links generosity and gratitude. Ann has been writing about gratitude for a long time, writing down list upon list of things to be grateful. Her book One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are was transformative for me.

I followed her example and wrote gifts even on the darkest days, the smallest moment becoming a moment to find joy. Today, I try and linger in those moments of joy and grace. My spiritual director has suggested writing down the fruits of my contemplation (not that I’ve been very contemplative lately — more on that in a future post) which is also turning out to be an exercise in gratitude.

Most recently, Ann wrote about how gratitude makes “giftivists”

“...there’s a perfect love that casts out all fear, there’s an immoveable truth that we are a people of Love, not fear, and there’s not an attack of the enemy that can make the people of the Cross cower in fear and hate and close their doors to Love."
... the Giftivists are the activists who believe that radical acts of generosity counter radical acts of inhumanity." 
I was, and in many ways still am, a selfish person, but I have noticed that I am becoming less selfish. Listing the ways seems to be like tooting my own horn, but small acts of kindness are becoming more frequent and occasionally in opposition to our shrinking household income. 

On the other hand, I still want the last Tim Tam (link to what they look like because we ate the last of them before I could take a photo. Ahem.). But maybe there is hope for me yet.

How has gratitude fed your generosity?

Sunday, November 22, 2015

An Invitation ...

I checked my email this morning to find the weekly letter from Still Forming had a very appealing announcement.

I wrote the following on Facebook:

Friends, there have been discussion and posts on my Facebook feed on the refugee crisis and what should or shouldn't be done. Early this week, I wanted to escape the polarization that's occurring and offer a series of reflections this Advent on love but I haven't been exactly successful in escaping the creation of more polarization on my Facebook feed. Christianne Squires (Still Forming) is offering a series of meditations on Jan Richardson's blessings (beautiful example here).

Here's what she says about them: "Jan's blessings are most poignant for the ways they meet us in the cracks and crevices of life, helping us find or notice the light in dark places. During a time when the world feels full of darkness, and in a season — Advent — when we are watching and waiting for the light to come, I cannot imagine a better gift than to let her remarkable blessings speak to our hearts and find our way forward."

The meditations are based on Jan Richardson's new book: Circle of Grace: A Book of Blessings for the Seasons. 
It takes more than one voice, one heart to change hearts away from fear and toward love. If you would like to join in, Christianne has set up a private Facebook group here.
I am still going to blog about love and hope this Advent and I am looking forward to hearing your thoughts too ... feel free to share them directly in the comments or link to your blog there.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Hope for Peace

Since the attacks in Paris, I've been contemplating how to respond. I've reacted aplenty: with horror and sorrow, with concern for backlash at refugees, immigrants and Muslims. I've traded comments on Facebook, shared news stories, prayers and commentary like this one:

"ISIL is Weak" by Wahleed Aly (The Project, a news/comedy show in Australia).

I kept getting the nudge that there was more that I could do than this, more that I could bring to heal the hurt, anger and fear.

"Hope for Peace" is the beginning of that. It's closely based on a LifeBook 2015 lesson by Andrea Gomoll some weeks ago that I never got around to doing. 

Glass bead gel is awesome although you can't see the shimmer really in this photo. This art journal page expresses simply my heart in that moment: to hope for peace, to bring light and joy and transformation ...

Advent is almost upon us (it starts on the 30th). It is traditionally a time of expectant waiting, of preparing for the arrival of the Christ Child. I am going to be blogging about peace, love, light, joy and transformation, and my struggles to find the same. I figure by sharing struggles and learning to speak and live these things that maybe there will be more joy, more love, more peace and less and less fear of things we don't need to be afraid of.

To start with (because one has to start somewhere), I'll be referring to Ed Bacon's The 8 Habits of Love: Overcome Fear and Transform Your Life which came out a couple of years ago. I pulled it out from my massive to-read pile(s) and started reading it this week. I'll also be dipping into The Rule of Benedict and various other sources.

I am hoping this will be less a lecture (aka me musing to myself) and a conversation, so I invite you to share your thoughts too on how one can lead with love.