We’ve survived Black Friday and Cyber-Monday and Tuesday. Black Friday is also known as Buy-Nothing-Day and was started by Adbusters magazine some years ago to counteract the consumerism of our modern society; I lament that we are such a consumer-oriented society. However, in this blog I want to focus on gratitude and the power of gratitude to ramp down our consumerist tendencies and cultivate a sense of awe.
Two of the elders that I have long respected—both now in their 90’s, one a Roman Catholic monk—Brother David Steindl-Rast—and the other a Quaker—Parker Palmer—have spoken and written about gratefulness. Brother David started the gratefulness.org website and movement and Parker the Centre for Courage and Renewal.
In a play on words, the administrators of the gratefulness.org website have suggested that instead of buying, buying, buying, we give a gift from the “great fullness” of our lives. There has been a lot of research that has shown that cultivating gratitude can change our brain patterns, change our habits, and change the way in which we view the world.
Part of Parker Palmer’s great work on courage is to remind us that courage is about living the convictions of our heart. The word courage comes from the Latin “cor,” which means heart. We live from our heart outwards; we live the convictions of our heart—generosity, love, compassion, peace, justice, hope—and participate in the renewal of our world.
The heart is where Brother David and Parker’s life-work overlap. Parker takes it in the direction of courage and Brother David in the direction of gratitude, but both are heart-centred in their call for the renewal of our societies, communities and interactions.
Scholars with better knowledge than I have researched the major ethical and religious movements of history. All these movements give expression to gratitude, abundance, hope, and the renewal of our lives and communities from the heart outward.
The World Parliament of Religions met in Toronto, ON, November 1st to 7th. The theme of the recent parliament was “The Promise of Inclusion, the Power of Love: Pursuing Global Understanding, Reconciliation and Change.” I haven’t heard much in the news media about this gathering, but the theme certainly is heart-centred.
Instead of giving-in to our need to acquire more, why not focus on expressing gratitude for the people in our lives, the things we do have, and simply just for this day. From the heart outwards, gratitude can grow and life can be lived more fully.