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August 22, 2011

Gratitude is something that took me a while to adopt in my life, and I am still working to make it a habit. Gratitude is the respect I give to the moments I have to learn, to love, and to live. Gratitude is being in the moment where I can accept life for what it is. Gratitude is knowing that I don’t deserve anything, but am given everything. Gratitude is the giving, for the love I receive.

As I mentioned in my last post, last year here in Viroqua I was involved in the spiritual circle the Wheel of Initiation where I spent one of our evenings telling my life story. The most important part of that story for me personally was when I looked over my life to discover what I had learned from it. I made a cursory list of some of the more important lessons, and read these to the group as part of my story, without which the story would simply be a framework of experiences. These, then are a few of my gratitudes.

  1. People are actually more forgiving than I originally thought.
  2. I can have compassion for those who don’t forgive, because I can only imagine how hard they must be on themselves.
  3. My goodness does not depend on what others think of me, although it’s really hard not to think so.
  4. Nevertheless, connection with others is very important to me, so my challenge is to have the courage to be who I am, while learning to trust that this will be enough.
  5. I now know that my soul is not really separate from universal spirit, so it’s in the soul that I not only find my own authentic self, but it’s from here that I find authentic connections with everyone else.
  6. I realize that I have had a pretty good life. My parents were not perfect, but they loved me and they tried their best to provide a life for their children, and who all in all did a pretty good job. I have wonderful siblings that I fought with every day while growing up, and who are now some of my best friends. I was taught some good values, grew up fairly well adjusted, and without too many trauma’s or hardships. I am truly a fortunate human being.
  7. There may have been a reason in my life for “hanging out in caves” and being ascetic … it was good for challenging my limitations and finding out what my body and soul were capable of. But I now think the more important work for me is found in participating in the world and making connections. Being with people, listening to people, learning from people, and ultimately serving people.
  8. When I was young, I over-rated guru’s in my life. I spent too much time searching for those who might have all the answers, when my real teachers were standing right next to me. We all live, and so we all have something to offer one another of what we have learned, and this gives us the impetus to listen -really listen- to each other. It’s easy to miss the wisdom of another when we believe that knowledge comes only from “qualified” sources. I am learning to celebrate everyone’s insights because they are truly a gift from one teacher to another.
  9. As far as the great mysteries in life, they are still mysteries to me. But I’m Ok with that now. At least  life has taught me that spirit exists and that soul exists, even if I can’t describe the full nature of these things. I don’t know if God exists, but I have found that knowing God is irrelevant to where I need to go and what kind of life I need to live.
  10. I have always experienced the sacred in the world of nature; and recent experiences have provided me the opportunity to experience this in the world of people. The sacred will appear in the moment two or more atoms combine to form a bond; and the sacred will appear where there are two or more hearts gathered with love, respect, purpose and compassion.
  11. I am at a point in my life where I no longer have the energy or the desire to maintain a facade. Facades are pieces of decorative architecture that have no structural value at all, yet require a certain amount of maintenance and cost. Figuratively, a facade is something I would use to conceal a perceived flaw or less pleasant reality in myself … some way of hiding parts of myself that I didn’t think were attractive, acceptable, or appreciated. Yet facades just hide the true me, and are too emotionally and spiritually expensive to maintain. I still have a ways to go in tearing down facades in my life, but I have started.
  12. I have learned that free will is one of the most important qualities I have as an individual soul. Free will allows me to investigate what I am told about truth, and what I perceive as reality; and it is also how I discover the true nature of my soul and the spirit it swims in. So it is interesting to me that one of the first things to be restricted in almost all religious institutions is free will.
  13. I am learning that it is only me that keeps me from happiness and fulfillment.
  14. Instead of feeling like I am weak because I don’t always stand up for myself, I will be grateful that I am naturally patient, and don’t easily get angry or pushy; which gives others a chance to get close to me and to be themselves.
  15. Instead of mourning the fact that I am not as bright or learned as others, I will appreciate that this has kept me from being arrogant and feeling above others.
  16. Instead of scolding myself for not being as disciplined as I think I should be, I will rejoice that I am not as severe as I could be.
  17. Instead of getting down on myself for the fact that I am not as loving as I aspire to be, I will celebrate that at least I want to be.
  18. I no longer believe in heaven as a place somewhere, but I do believe in heaven as a state of mind. To obtain heaven I must not only have the will and strength to fly beyond my self-imposed limitations, but I must also have the courage to let go of the fears and attachments that keep me secured to the ground. So, as I realize that I am not as courageous as I need to be, I will find hope in the fact that I still have time.
7 Comments leave one →
  1. MikeL permalink*
    August 25, 2011 10:26 am

    Whenever we get together, we joke about how our memories of the odd cultural factoids are dissipating with age. For me, I think that this is simply a case of the old cerebral wetware failing a bit after decades of self abuse (not that kind, Father Conrad!).

    But it’s apparent to me by what you have been writing that whereas my mind has always intensely and obstinately clung to the insanity of our society, you were able to separate yourself from that craziness and ponder the Truth (or the many simpler truths) all around us.

    Your ability now to share your observations with others seems to me to be the greatest gift you can leave us all.

    Thank you

  2. August 24, 2011 9:43 pm

    you end with courage, and I so enjoyed this ee cummings poem that has “let’s then
    despise what is not courage”

    If I remember correctly, you despise poetry, so here I am tormenting you with poems. But it is a nice poem for what it is, and you might have someone who fits into it, although it is such a puzzle of a poem…you know cummings

  3. M'Lou Wilkie permalink
    August 23, 2011 9:42 pm

    Dear Rick-
    Thank you so much for sharing your journey of transformation from earth bound to spirit light expressed with honesty, love, and beauty. You are beauty and truth now and always. Your ability to put your thoughts into words is awesome.
    In gratitude and with love, M’Lou

  4. Jo Stothard permalink
    August 23, 2011 2:57 pm

    You have studied life very well and know so much more than most…………it truly has been a journey for you! Again thanks for sharing with us and giving me so much, to toss around in my head!

  5. Lauren permalink
    August 23, 2011 8:29 am

    I love your definition of gratitude Rick. Do you mind if I borrow it (copy it down) to use as a reminder? I am drinking in all that you write. Thank you.

  6. August 22, 2011 2:59 pm

    Heaven IS a state of mind…so is Hell….and they both exist here on Earth, not in some other worldly realm. And you are right about the facade of the ego state; it takes a lot of energy to keep it propped up…….and letting it go is so freeing. Any facade is based on the perception that I AM NOT ENOUGH. And that is a lie.

    You are doing a great job of life, my friend…I totally am in awe of your journey, your perceptions and your great Spirit…… came on Earth to do this work, I am convinced of that! And, in so doing, you are a huge blessing to all of us that call you dear friend.

    Much love and,yes, gratitude,


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