Monday, November 22, 2004

It is soon to be that season again - beginning with Thanksgiving - that many of us cherish so much; what many might fondly refer to as the "annual peace on earth and goodwill to all." It is a season that evokes so many wonderful heartfelt memories. And for those it doesn't, it evokes feelings and memories of loneliness... regret... emptiness...

For many, it remains a season that brings an advent of gratefulness for all that they have and all that they are - regardless of their perceived personal due or need. Their very spirit is opened to the gifts - simple and profound - given to them on their journey. And for others, it is a season that intensely accents all that is lacking and missing from their journey and their personal gain...

It was in the early 1990s when I reached a personal impasse concerning this particular holiday season and my overall personal journey. Please allow me to share my simple experience and a thought with you today on our Morning Walk. In those past years, the days seemed to soar past at sonic speed; often times a blur of experiences and emotions. I admit that I was a man [some might say developmentally I was a boy] lost in the very frenzy of my own pace of what I thought I should be "becoming." I never intentionally meant to hurt any human soul or journey, but sadly enough I left some painful tire tracks on the lives of some individuals through my own blur and frenzy. And for this, I remain sorry. But through it all, I came to realize that the majority of my personal frenzy and blur was due to my own unconscious and conscious unwillingness to fully and deeply appreciate the blessings in my life. Like so many others when "things didn't go their way" as they wanted, I spent a good portion of my day dreaming of when my glass would no longer be half-empty... not realizing that most of the time, a half-glass a day is exactly all that we need.

I can't remember where I read this simple phrase in those years, but it is phrase of which I try to remind myself when my personal world begins to revolve faster than I would like these days:

Gratefulness slows time.

It was then that I chose to consciously - on a daily basis - to become and remain more grateful than I had in the past. And it's made a world of difference. Now follow me through two of your recent days...

Choose a day when things were looking a little bleak for you (i.e. deadlines at work and home, conflicting schedules, etc.). Although it may have seemed like the day would never end, looking back the day(s) went by in a flurry - in a frenzy of confusion and anxiousness...

Now follow me through a day when you felt like your glass was full, someone did a good deed for you and you felt like you were on top of the world. Didn't it seem like every moment was just "full" and could last a lifetime? Our own gratefulness literally slows down our daily life to a manageable pace and further opens our heart to the grace and beauty that exists abundantly around us... that same grace and beauty so many seem to miss while they are lamenting their worldly woes.

My friend, the past holiday seasons (and all seasons after that) would pass by me so fast each year and I would sit quietly on New Year's Eve each year and wonder why. Frantic pacing for unpurchased Christmas gifts, work deadlines before the holidays, interspersed with a brief cup of egg nog before I would wonder "what's next my overflowing list of things to do?" left me - and so many others - empty on so many New Year's Days.

This year I encourage you to replace the question "What's next on my list to do?" with "What's next for which to be grateful?" Push yourself to find every little aspect of your life for which to be grateful and take a moment to really celebrate its effect on you. Be sure that if it's a person for which you are grateful that you take a moment to thank them personally. It may be the best gift they receive this season.

For it may be true that perhaps the only thing that will ever fill our half-glass of holiday joy is simply our own gratefulness.


Post Note: For me, I would like to take a moment to say that I am most grateful for the wonderful families that I find myself in, both Hoedls and Clarens. As "unique" (strange) as I can be most times, you all have been very accepting of me.

And to my wonderful wife Di and children Leo, Emily, Hannah and Nicholas: If I've ever given you reason to take pause and doubt my gratefulness for you, I am heartly sorry. If gratefulness slows time, then each moment with you five is an eternal moment of joy.

hoedl's haven
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