Gotta Give up the Gratitude!

What are you feeling thankful for?

 This question is asked at every Riekes gathering we have, whether it’s a small staff meeting or a weeklong camp out we begin everything with gratitude. These words are spoken to bring our minds into harmony and to acknowledge and appreciate all beings of the natural world. The practice of thanksgiving reminds us we are but one strand in this web of life. To me it is an essential practice to stay grounded, connected, and aware here on Earth, especially in these crazy times we live in.

 The practice of giving thanks was passed on to our community through Jake Swamp, a Mohawk sub chief and representative of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) confederacy. It was actually from this nation that the founding fathers generated the vision of democracy based upon the Iroquois’ successful and peaceful democratic system. But our founding fathers left out a critical aspect to the new structure, the custom of giving thanks. The Iroquois elders who aided the founding fathers warned them of this, saying that if they left out giving gratitude they would be leaving a seat for evil to come sit at the table. I wonder how the world may have been different if our nation kept up with the practice of gratitude…. would we be facing the challenges we face today?

    The Thanksgiving address is a fundamental practice for many of us at Riekes. We have noticed the profound and positive impact it has within us as individuals and also as a community of people connecting deeper to the Earth. As staff we always arrive early to programs to “bring our minds together” over gratitude, there have been some days where we arrive late and did not get to have a quality thanksgiving. We have all noticed that on these days we encounter more challenges and it takes more energy to keep an elevated mindset. When we do come together and share thanks the days are amazingly smoother, more connected and fun! It’s no wonder the wise ones say these are “ the words that come before all else”… They are the breath of our connection.

What generates deep Gratitude?




And visa versa… Connection creates gratitude….Gratitude births deeper connection. The spiral dance…


When we are in good connection gratitude will flow effortlessly.

I have a personal story to show this…. 

This past Sunday I went on a wander on our coastal bluffs above the ocean, the sun was setting and there was a soft quality in the air that spoke of the heaviness of coming rain. Walking slowly down the path I felt how my heart was racing, there were so many thoughts in my mind of what I needed to “do” and worries I had.  I took some deep breaths to bring myself back and began to notice the golden crowned sparrows feeding nearby…singing their sweet sad song. Stopping I felt a kinship with the sparrows. Thank you sparrows! Breathing deeply and going into soft owl eyes I felt a lightness spread through me. There was a sense of deep peace that came with a strong aliveness, like I could run for miles but was happy to be slow and breath deep. The deeper I breathed the more present I became, the more I connected to the life around me. I noticed how free the ocean was as she tumbled onto the shore with out a care. How the seal played in the surfline. I felt the cold wind rush down and whip at my exposed face. I smelled seaweed below on the beach and watched the waves spill forward and then suck back, again and again. The power of the land and ocean made their way into the cracks of my heart, my soul and widened them so more life could pour through. Like invisible water the birds and sky, the colors and silence watered me back to life, seeped into my bones. I was left where I needed to be, alive and thankful. Aware of my small but beautiful place in the whole of life….

 This deep way of connecting watered my personal well of thanksgiving. In busy moments the past couple days I have closed my eyes and remembered the sunset moment of beauty and peace, I take a sip from the well within me and am nourished. It is a simple practice, it’s free, but it’s more powerful then anything you could by. Giving thanks is like watering your own inner garden. Don’t let your life be barren of these rains! Be Grattitude!

 We are blessed to be a part of this wild ride of life. I remember Finch, Jon and Nicole’s son, playing on a log, bouncing up and down on it and he said with gusto “ This is my problem and this is my wild ride!”. I laughed out loud because it’s so true; life is a wild beautiful ride and so challenging at once. Giving thanks helps us to cultivate a strong connection and balanced mind to meet our lives, the joys and the pains. I believe if more of the world came together in gratitude we would see monumental shifts and leaps towards a more balanced way of living on Earth. Let us be the change we wish to see and carry the flame of thanksgiving.

 So as we begin with Gratitude so we end….

What are you feeling thankful for? …Really, truly?


~ by rcnature on October 23, 2012.

One Response to “Gotta Give up the Gratitude!”

  1. I am thankful for this essay! You touched on so many aspects of being in gratitude. Your stories, historical background, personal experiences and joining of gratitude & connection were so wonderfully illustrative.
    Recently my husband Michael mentioned that he ‘s noticed that you can’t simultaneously feel anxious and feel gratitude at the same time.
    Thanks, Coco!

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