As many in the US prepare for some form of Thanksgiving celebration (it is, I understand, the holiday for and on which more people travel to be together than any other, and the purpose is, ostensibly, to give thanks), I find myself reflecting on the theme of gratitude and thanks in general.

The practice of Naikan comes to mind, a practice which invites us to reflect on what we have received, what we have given, and what ‘troubles and difficulties’ we have caused. To quote from the Naikan site: It’s as if, standing on top of a mountain, we shift from a zoom lens to a wide-angle lens. Now we can appreciate the broader panorama – our former perspective still included, but accompanied by much that had been hidden. And that which was hidden makes the view extraordinary.”

Another way we might put things in perspective is with Billy Collin’s poignant poem, Have a listen to The Lanyard, read by Garrison Keillor on Poetry Everywhere. It invites me to reflect on what I have given and received in the course of my lifetime, or in a day, a week, or from a particular person. And you?

As I recall my experience with Naikan, and feel into the sentiments of The Lanyard, I find myself full of gratitude, for the gift of life, of love, for the chance to celebrate the bounties of the earth together, for time alone, for the crystals of snow on the mountain tops and gracing the window, for the dark time of year, the warmth of bodies, grandchildren, joined hands, open hearts….

Blessings to you and yours this holiday season.

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