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The Blessing Jar

A couple years ago I found this idea in an article and I’ve adopted this practice ever since.  Last Sunday was the end of the first full week of the new year.  Having experienced the uncertainty and unpredictability of the last two years, I am confident things will continue to surprise and sometimes disappoint me in the coming year.  That has not dissuaded me from setting intentions and maybe even a few goals.  Yet that is not what the practice is about.

At the end of the week, or Sundays for me, I stop to reflect on the blessings of the week.  2020 was packed with the drama of retiring in a pandemic and moving across the country.  Last year, I have to say, sometimes I considered an uneventful week a blessing. 

A day is lived moment by moment.  A week is built by seven mostly ordinary days.  And a year is filled in by 52 weeks.  It’s fine to have a New Year’s ritual of looking back at the year but my memory vision is not what it used to be.  I have found a weekly recording of blessings both keeps me present to the gifts of my ordinary life and gives me a scrapbook of memories for my New Year’s Eve reflection.  I enjoy the challenge of looking for gifts as the isolation of our pandemic continues to disrupt the adventures we used to look forward to. Nature offers her gifts in the silence and isolation that always exists and I return to her often. Sundays I take time to take a page from a calendar or a small note sheet and fill in my blessings.  I tuck the note into the Blessing Jar and release it.  New Year’s Eve is a pleasant surprise as I (and family if they are here) pull the notes, one by one, out to review the year.  There are always more blessings than we remembered. 

If you have no Blessing jar, any container will do.  If you don’t have a page-a-day calendar, recycle any piece of paper.  The important thing is to take time to sit in gratitude and savor the blessings of the now moment.  If you think you have nothing to be grateful for, consider the mishaps that didn’t happen. I had one of those driving days yesterday. I sighed as I pulled into my parking space, grateful none of the accidents I narrowly avoided happened.  Grateful for my reflexes and a reliable car.  And a parking space by my door. It’s not too late to begin a Blessing Jar for 2022.  Find the gifts you might have overlooked and allow gratitude to guide you through this year. 

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Radical Wholeness and Gratitude

It is that season in the United States, whether you are spiritual or not, when everyone is encouraged to make a list of what we are grateful for.  Some call it a list of your blessings.  Thanksgiving becomes a test, sometimes, of whether or not we can see enough good in our lives to become content and appreciative of what we have. Here is the tricky part that has happened in my experience; if I can look within and see myself as whole, complete and part of the divine Allness, then everything I see in my life becomes a part of that wholeness.  If, however, I look within and see myself as broken and lacking, then all I can see is the lack in my life.  At that point, my list of what I am grateful for only has an entry on every other line with gaps in between which my mind fills in with the things I don’t have that I imagine would make me happy—things I’d have if I were truly whole and complete.  This is what we’ve learned, often in family, in the media, in our social circles:  that there are specific things on the checklist which are required to really be happy and successful.  If something is missing or lacking in this physical journey we call life, we are not whole.  Grateful becomes a superficial attitude and platitude.

Over the years, being able to experience gratitude as a spiritual sense of wholeness within me first, even for just brief windows of time, has allowed me to use that experience to guide me when I am seeing myself as broken and lacking.  Knowing the wholeness truly does exist within me, the blessing list becomes pieces I am picking up to recreate the whole—pieces I use to reconnect with my inner sense of wholeness.  It becomes easier to gather a few pieces, one grateful blessing at a time, until there is that sigh of my soul that says, “Ah, there it is!  Wholeness! Everything I am, everything I see, every thing I possess is a part of my wholeness and I am whole within a Universal wholeness.” That transition may be easier if I begin looking at nature, or it may be easier if I begin looking at the smallest, simplest things. Whatever my mood is, I do not believe there is a specific list of how wholeness manifests and that is the radical part of the concept of Radical Wholeness.  I am whole without being tall, without being partnered, without being employed, without being perfectly mobile, and without being completely pain free. Those aren’t gaps, they simply are not part of the wholeness I AM right now! I feel gratitude centered in my wholeness. I experience gratitude as a deep, sincere contentment.

The pandemic, quarantining, economic upheaval, social unrest and a bit of chaos in every corner of the world has many of us hesitant to begin a list of gratitude this year.  Our mind is too focused on what is missing.  We see ourselves and our world as broken and lacking. We are not broken and we are not lacking.  We are whole and complete within, even if there are temporary conditions outside us or in our bodies trying to convince us we are not whole and we are not complete.  Try centering yourself, breathing into a sense of yourself as whole within a larger whole, before you begin a list of blessings.  Knowing your wholeness allows you to see that wholeness present all around you.  I am grateful for Radical Wholeness and the opportunity to see it in each of you.   

Image description: an ivory pitcher with a silk arrangement of orange, russet and green leaves and flowers with a dark green framed picture of a field mouse gathering grain propped against the pitcher.

Begin within