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Sacred Imagination
November 2000 Column & Gallery

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Dana's Current Column

by Dana Reynolds

Each month, Dana Reynolds shares her life-transforming thoughts, ideas, and sacred imagination based around our
"theme of the month."  Dana is a visionary Spiritual Midwife, who devotes herself to helping women birth their creative gifts into the world.

"Cultivating Gratitude: Heart-Hugs and Prayer Leaves"

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 acknowledgment.

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.

Step One: Waking up to Gratitude

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.

Step Two: Slowing Down to Count Your Blessings

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 irritation.

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 blessings.

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 strangers.

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 mail.

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 unexpected places.

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 your blessings.

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 gratitude stories.

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.

You are invited to submit your story and accompanying photos to be considered as a feature for the Sacred Imagination column. E-mail me at dana@sacredimagination.com for details.

Copyright© 2000 Dana Reynolds. 


Read Dana's Soulful Living Feature Articles:

Visual Prayers

Intuition and the Sacred Imagination: The Dance of Co-creation

Read Dana's Past "Sacred Imagination" Columns:

October 2000 "Journey to the Center - The Sacred Mystery of the Labyrinth"

September 2000 "The Heart and Craft of Healing"

August 2000 "Transforming Life’s Challenges into Beauty and Story"

July 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 workshops.

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 web-site http://www.sacredimagination.com 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.


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