It is Thanksgiving Monday here in Canada, and indeed I have much to be thankful for. I feel right in saying that we all have much to be thankful for. Even those of us who may not seem (on the surface) to have a lot to be thankful for still have this incredible gift of life through which to dream and create, learn and grow, digest and express. Despite what many would consider difficult circumstances, I feel that every life provides a balance of it’s own. Nobody’s centre is any better than anyone else’s. I won’t get into speculation here about past or future lives or notions of karma and reincarnation, because I simply do not know, but if we are completely honest with ourselves, I think we all must admit that we simply don’t know. This goes either way. It leaves open the possibility of a balance beyond our sight and far beyond our comprehension. Again, if we are honest with ourselves, we can see that most of our ideas of balance and justice are context specific, rarely spilling outside of the frame of a single lifetime. This is a frame we have created, because we simply cannot speak with certainty of anything beyond either side, whether so-called beginnings or endings.
If we imagine affluence to provide security from sickness or sadness, we are sorely mistaken, and maybe crazy. Why would we think people without material wealth are ‘worse off’? What right have we to push the ‘supremacy’ of our way of life on others we consider less-fortunate? This often happens alongside charitable intentions, sharing our abundance while supposing people from less-affluent societies are lacking something. This subtle assumption piggy-backs on our donations and has the power to infect an otherwise happy group of people with the idea that they are missing out on something. As I traveled through the highlands of Bolivia, I saw people living simple lives without much. They had a bit of land to work (whether they owned it or not), simple, traditional (often colourful) clothes, and family by their sides. As I passed by these scenes on various buses, I almost always saw wide smiles and shining eyes. They didn’t seem to me to be lacking anything. It didn’t feel like an iPad would have added much to their lives.
But we can still be grateful for our abundance without feeling guilty or obliged to give it all away. Of course it is healthy to share what we have, but perhaps the simple gift of our real presence is enough for others. Maybe just being an open ear and open heart is all anyone really needs of us. No matter what we may be thinking, or how we may be feeling, if we can be available to those around us, we may find ourselves serving in a deeper way than we had previously imagined possible.
I have been blessed with incredible abundance in my life, and it has been clear especially over the last few days. I have been home with my parents, appreciating their full fridge and cupboards. I look around and see lovely furniture and appliances in their condo. I just now came down from the pool, jacuzzi and sauna (which I use frequently when I visit home). I have access to vehicles and more luxuries than many ever experience. While I am grateful for all of this, I also see that none of it really matters. It is only the love speaking within and through it all which means anything. It is all an extension of love from my parents to provide for us, and for one another. This is all that is actually happening here.
This is the same the world over. No matter what relative comforts or pleasures we may have, only the love has any real value. I am confident of this. My Mother has been reminding me my whole life that “to whom much is given much will be required.” This is simply balance. My Dad said that “life is the great equalizer”. I feel these statements to be deeply true. Neil Young sang that “you get what you bring.” It’s the same story. It is clear to me that only the love we give and receive really matters, regardless of what shape it may take. So as we look around at this time of Thanksgiving and allow ourselves to feel gratitude for all we are blessed with, I hope that we come to see that it is not actually for any of the things around us, and not even the wonderful experiences we may enjoy, but that this gratitude is simply singing the song of the endless movement of love. As we give thanks for this we see our abundance multiply. So I encourage you all to pause and feel whatever gratitude you are able to. Let it overtake you. Practice this often and it will never turn you wrong.
Thanks for reading.
…and Happy Thanksgiving!