by Dana Reynolds
Each of us has been blessed
with those times in life when something profound
happened and it was automatic to say, "Thank
God." Those holy moments when the job offer came
through, or the house sold, or the diagnosis was benign,
or the plane landed safely, or the baby was born
healthy. Gifts from the Divine, like these, signal we
have made it through another passage, we’re still
here, and life is good. Big events like these are cause
for celebration. They are recognizable. They are
landmarks. Gratitude is the natural response in the way
applause follows a bravo performance.
This month, as we focus on
gratitude, I invite you to celebrate not only the big
moments, so worthy of thanksgiving, but also the little
blessings that come your way. Additionally consider the
special people in your life who deserve gratitude and
Beginning the day in gratitude
sets the tone for whatever the next twenty-four hours
might bring. During the month of November, in honor of
Thanksgiving and in preparation for a soulful and sacred
holiday, you might like to try the following process to
bring gratitude awareness to each day.
Living in Gratitude: A
Thirty Day Experiment
The following four-fold map is
intended as a daily spiritual practice to be experienced
for thirty days. Following these steps will bring
gratitude into your conscious awareness throughout the
day. Feel free to use your creativity to expand the
concepts and make them truly your own.
Waking up to
As you awaken each morning
immediately bring gratitude into awareness. Give thanks
before throwing off the covers to leap into the river of
carpooling, appointments, meetings, or the needs of
family and children. Take a deep breath and for example,
say a prayer of gratitude for a restful night’s sleep,
for your eyes and the gift of vision that welcome the
day’s light, for the bird’s song of joy outside your
window, for the protective warmth of your comfortable
bed. These are blessings that might otherwise go
unnoticed or could be taken for granted. Being actively
grateful for these graces through prayer sets a tone for
whatever the day may hold.
Slowing Down to Count
Throughout the day there
are often moments that provoke annoyance and impatience.
Interruptions such as the red traffic light when you’re
running late, the phone ringing just as you’re heading
out the door, the chance meeting with an acquaintance
when you should be running errands, or simply having to
stand on line at the post office to mail an important
package. These moments seem to occur daily and the
cumulative effect is high blood pressure, anxiety, and
Bringing gratitude to these
times of forced pause shifts the energy from aggravation
to appreciation. The next time the traffic light turns
red forcing you to an unwanted halt, take a deep breath
and call to mind three things or persons you are
grateful for and offer a prayer of thanksgiving. This
might be a good time to consider those people in your
life who have been your greatest teachers, or to
remember the unexpected guidance you received from a
stranger. Allow those times during the day that cause
you to pause to become sacred times as you count your
Step Three: Spreading the
Message of Gratitude Awareness
Taking action to express
gratitude through prayer is central to thanksgiving
consciousness. One way to deliver gratitude directly to
someone you wish to thank personally is through a "Heart
Hug" sent by e-mail or snail mail. A "Heart
Hug" is a personalized expression of gratitude
to co-workers, family members, friends, and even total
The creation of Heart-Hugs is a
sacred-art meditation…. Buy some blank shipping tags
at your local office supply store and engage with your
creativity to make them beautiful. You may want to use
rubber-stamps, stickers, or create miniature collages
with cut and pasted images from magazines. Cover one
side of a tag with your artful expression of gratitude
and on the other side simply say something like….
"This is a Heart-Hug from me to you. I’m
grateful you are in my life because you have taught me
to have courage by your example (express the appropriate
reason for your gratitude). I send you blessings and
appreciation. Please help spread gratitude awareness by
sending a Heart-Hug to someone who has brought
blessings your way." Tie a colorful ribbon through
the hole on the tag and put it in an envelope for snail
Make thirty or more "Heart
Hug" cards and send one a day to someone who
has blessed you in some big or small way. Keep several
in your pocket or purse to anonymously tie to the desk
of a co-worker who makes the coffee each morning, or to
tuck into your child’s lunchbox. Spread gratitude in
E-mail is also a way to send
more than memos through cyberspace. Create a "Heart-Hug"
message of gratitude to send to someone who has
touched your heart and soul.
Step Four: Ending the Day with
Prayers of Thanksgiving
Closing the day with a
prayer of gratitude will enrich your sense of well being
and usher in peaceful feelings to carry into dreamtime.
Place a large glass jar next to your bed and an
assortment of colorful paper squares for recording your
daily prayers of thanksgiving. Each night before you
turn out the light, write a gratitude prayer for all the
blessings of the day. Some blessings are actually
lessons that are delivered in challenging ways. As you
consider the day’s events with respect to gratitude,
be conscious of the not too pleasant moments for they
may have contained a teaching gift that makes the
experience worthy of thanksgiving.
Place your prayers in the jar.
Add rose petals, dried lavender, and silver stars to
bless these offerings. Let the fragrance of the rose and
lavender soothe you as you go to sleep contemplating
To continue the co-creation of
prayer and creativity for your holiday table here’s
one more suggestion for experiencing gratitude this
month. As Thanksgiving approaches take a walk in your
neighborhood and collect a basket full of autumn leaves.
When your family and friends gather together on
Thanksgiving Day offer them felt-tipped pens to record
on the leaves what they are most grateful for this past
year. Use the leaves as decoration on the Thanksgiving
table. Take turns reading the leaves and sharing
The last of autumn’s leaves
are falling to the ground, a signal that we are at the
threshold of the potentially busiest time of the year.
May we embrace the small rich moments in between the
frenetic hours of shopping, cooking, and gift-wrapping,
to experience gratitude and to offer our prayers.
Perhaps gratitude consciousness will help to prepare our
hearts and souls for the true sacredness of the
holy season that is swiftly approaching.
Copyright© 2000 Dana
Dana's Soulful Living Feature Articles:
and the Sacred Imagination: The Dance of Co-creation
Dana's Past "Sacred Imagination" Columns:
2000 "Journey to the Center - The Sacred Mystery of
2000 "The Heart and Craft of Healing"
2000 "Transforming Life’s Challenges into Beauty and Story"
2000 "Sacred Spaces Invite the
Muses of the Soul"
For ten years, Dana Reynolds has
been facilitating women’s spiritual presentations and
retreats nationwide. Her work as a Spiritual Midwife,
one who assists women as they birth their creative gifts
into the world, is the foundation of all her endeavors.
Her background as a visual artist and writer enriches
her Spiritual Midwifery: Birthing the Feminine Soul
As the creator of an art making
process known as visual prayer, Dana teaches
women how to combine ritual with sacred intention to
create altars, collages, spirit dolls, and other
touchstones. The creation of sacred spaces is also
paramount to the Spiritual Midwifery experience. Her
offers samplings of her visual prayer collages, poetry,
and a workshop catalogue.
Dana is the author of the
whimsical and colorfully illustrated book, Be An
Angel, a co-creation with illustrator and graphic
designer, Karen Blessen, (Simon & Schuster). Her
essay, Visual Prayers is included in the
anthology, Our Turn, Our Time: Women Coming of Age, edited
by Cynthia Black, (Beyond Words Publishing).
A trained labyrinth
facilitator, Dana incorporates the labyrinth and other
spiritual wisdom into her retreats and workshops. She
recently traveled to Chartres and Vezelay Cathedrals in
France to gather information pertaining to ancient
sacred mystical traditions. She currently lectures on
such topics as spiritual midwifery, sacred journal
keeping, feminine spiritual wisdom, and the early
Christian women saints and mystics.
Dana’s life follows the
spiral path from rim to center and back again. She looks
for the sacred in forgotten places and openly embraces
the great Mystery of life. Guiding women to the
discovery of their creative inner gifts is the passion
that fuels her soul.