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Lakota author and activist Doug Good Feather is committed to sharing Indigenous wisdom and practices with nonnative audiences as a way to help and to heal humanity. He writes that no matter what our circumstances, gratitude is available to us:
Each and every morning offers us a chance to start anew, fresh, and to begin again. Each morning when we wake—should we choose to listen—is a message from the Creator to remember the privilege we were given of waking up. It’s a reminder to get up and prepare our self, to honor our self, to go out into the world, to connect with Mother Earth and the hearts of other beings, to inspire and encourage those who cross our paths, and most importantly, to enjoy life.
Good Feather highlights the Indigenous virtues of gratitude and generosity:
Gratitude and generosity are similar virtues, but they differ in that gratitude is an internal characteristic and generosity is our external expression of our sense of gratitude. Basically, gratitude is how we feel, and generosity is how we express that feeling out in the world. . . .
When we engage with the world from a place of gratitude, it’s the difference between trying to make something happen and allowing something to happen. The defining difference between effort and effortlessness is the virtue of gratitude. We see the quotes and memes from the sages and gurus that talk about gratitude. But why is gratitude such a core concept of joy, contentment, and well-being in our life? The ancestors tell us there are two primary reasons. The first is that a person cannot exist in a place of fear and true gratitude at the same time. The second is that gratitude is the doorway to divine intuition, which allows us to be guided by our connection with the Creator.
Gratitude moves stagnant energy when we’re feeling stuck in life. The simple act of practicing gratitude disrupts negative thoughts and changes our mindset to see the world in a positive way. Not only are we more attractive to others when we live in gratitude, but the most ordinary things can become extraordinary, creating a fuller, more beautiful expression of our life.
You’ve probably heard the old saying, “Things don’t happen to us, they happen for us.” Gratitude is the foundation of that adage. It means that our mindset has to be that the universe is generally conspiring and working in our favor. Frequently, when something that we perceive as “bad” happens to us, we let it affect us in a highly negative way. But if we interact with the world from a place of gratitude, when something happens that others may perceive as “bad,” we just see that experience as “interesting.” We are curious about why something happens the way it does, and in expressing that curiosity, we’re actively seeking the part of the experience that we’re grateful for.
Doug Good Feather, Think Indigenous: Native American Spirituality for a Modern World, transcribed by Doug Red Hail Pineda (Carlsbad, CA: Hay House, 2021), 27, 30, 31. Emphasis in original.
Explore Further. . .
- Read Franciscan Sister and climate justice leader Joan Brown on living in gratitude for Mother Earth.
- Learn more about this year’s theme Nothing Stands Alone.
- Meet the team behind the Daily Meditations.
Image credit: Aaron Burden, Untitled (detail), 2022, United States, photograph, Unsplash. Vidar Nordli-Mathisen, Laughing Nuns (detail), 2018, Italy, photograph, Unsplash. Aaron Burden, Untitled (detail), 2022, United States, photograph, Unsplash. Jenna Keiper & Leslye Colvin, 2022, triptych art, United States. Click here to enlarge image.
Image inspiration: Thank you, Spirit, for life. Thank you for shared joy. Thank you for beauty. Amen.
Story from Our Community:
In January 2022, my wife of 47 years died from COVID-19. My grief has been unbearable at times. Some days seem like they last 10 years. I began to question my faith as my grief seemed to change into fear. What if I never see my family in eternal bliss? This was another loss for me [because] soon after I converted to Catholicism in 1998, I became an “uber-catholic” in my parish. I knew everything it seemed—but I didn’t know what I thirsted for. In my grief, I was reading the Daily Meditations when the image of a kernel of faith spoke to me. It was so powerful, I felt it put me back on track. It does not feel like I am talking myself into some “story” to feel better; rather, I it feels as though I was handed a map to help navigate the uneasy waters of life. I can hardly express my deep gratitude to Fr. Richard and CAC for what you do for us every day. Thank you, THANK YOU. —Jack C.
Prayer for our community:
God, Lord of all creation, lover of life and of everything, please help us to love in our very small way what You love infinitely and everywhere. We thank You that we can offer just this one prayer and that will be more than enough, because in reality every thing and every one is connected, and nothing stands alone. To pray for one part is really to pray for the whole, and so we do. Help us each day to stand for love, for healing, for the good, for the diverse unity of the Body of Christ and all creation, because we know this is what You desire: as Jesus prayed, that all may be one. We offer our prayer together with all the holy names of God, we offer our prayer together with Christ, our Lord, Amen.