Someone shared a letter that Rev. Shari Prestemon, from the Minnesota Conference of the United Church of Christ, sent to Minnesota Governor Tim Walz.
In it she said that hers is a denomination that “strives to seek justice and share extravagant love with the most vulnerable among us.” I like that phrase, seek justice and share extravagant love. I think I’ll take it as my life’s mission statement. Seek justice and share extravagant love.
And now I know my life’s purpose to be this: to live up to my mission statement.
This issue of Signal Fire is written entirely by a reader. It’s something I’ve been wanting to express for a very long time. I just could never put it as clearly as this. But then, clarity of thought and word is Jeff Nygaard’s way. If you don’t already read Nygaard Notes, I highly recommend it. Here’s what he says:
I’ve noticed a difference in how I resonate with gratitude depending on how I frame things. It’s hard to express, but I’ll try.
The more specific and/or personal I get, the less energizing it is.
It seems like the difference between “grateful to” and “grateful for”
“I’m grateful to Mark for donating to Nygaard Notes.” vs “I’m grateful for the generosity and solidarity that allows me to do my work.”
The first one is true, and I feel good about it. The second one makes me feel joyful and blessed to be part of a broad community. And it includes the gratitude I feel toward each individual.
I think the first one is more conditional, and depends on a specific action in order to be “true.” The second one rests on a long history and doesn’t change day to day. I’m ALWAYS grateful, and each specific act only reminds me that I am.
“I’m grateful for the beautiful day today.” vs “I’m grateful to be alive to experience a day like today.”
Good days come and go, but my gratitude for being a part of the unfolding is always there. My gratitude practice serves to remind me that I can live in a state of gratitude no matter what any given day offers me. What a gift that is!
Bear with me, as we take a trip inside my head.
“What in the world is wrong with these republicans?! They’re either working people with machine guns or they’re billionaires who use everything as a way to increase their hoard of wealth. Good grief!”
Recognizing that disturbers are always allies, I wonder what these particular allies might have for me today. It’s this: “Today I am generous in thought, word, and deed.”
Perhaps more accurately put—I want to be; I intend to be; I will learn to be; I choose to be. Generous in thought, word, and deed.
If you can’t hug other people right now, hug a tree!
And you can do more than hug. Try this. Most of you are familiar with this type of grounding exercise. As you lean on your tree, imagine that you have roots in the earth, too. Mingle your roots with the roots of the tree.
Trees have a strong communication system, though different from ours. As I see it, trees understand need. And if you’re clear about your needs, and if your intention to have your needs met is clear, when you mingle your roots the trees will communicate your needs far and wide. And who knows who else the trees communicate with?
Why do we practice gratitude?
Because we feel better when we do.
One subscriber wrote: “With your prompting, many months ago we adopted a new practice. Every night before dinner, we toast something we are grateful for. Sometimes several things. Which means throughout the day I am mentally assembling a list. Truly, this is often the best moment of the day. Always makes my heart smile.”
Gratitude can make our hearts smile. And gratitude provides fertile ground for the growth of curiosity, spontaneity, generosity, wonder, and all-encompassing love.
Practice gratitude every day, and tell me about your practice.
A friend suggested I should describe myself this way: “Jett Sophia, the Nagging Psychic. She’s on your side.” 🤗
Owning that moniker, I’m here to nag a bit: Are you practicing gratitude?
Specifically, what are your gratitude practices? What are you actually doing to practice gratitude every day?
The Live Oak trees, beautiful and majestic shade givers that they are, are shedding pollen right now. That pollen is hard on me, so I don’t go out much. Since my primary gratitude practice happens in my car, I need to develop some new practices. https://www.jettsophia.com/259-gratitude/
I imagine some others of you are looking for ideas, too.
Suggestions, please. Let us know. We can all learn from each other.
It’s been a couple years since I wrote about the Hug Your Heart breath. Here’s what I said in December, 2017:
“I am frequently freaked out about the Republicans. Wise counsel says when that happens, just love them. But I have found myself to be unequal to that task. What to do?
Then I remembered my Hug Your Heart breath. Hugging my heart allows me to take a step back from the fear and frustration. Hugging my heart, I can feel love for all people, and indirectly, as it were, for the Republicans.
Even if there were no white supremacists, no misogynists, no child molesters, this would be a good time to practice the Hug Your Heart breath. Because for many people, the holidays cause their own kinds of frustration and anxiety.
Hug Your Heart!”
Focus on what pleases you.
Paying attention to what you like is gratitude in action; it is living in gratitude.
Try it right now. Look around you. What do you see that you like? What do you hear, smell, feel that pleases you? Take a breath, take a moment, and savor it.
As the days lengthen, may yours be filled with the living spirit of gratitude. Happy Solstice.