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Blog Alan Seale, November 23, 2020, Intentional Living

This week we celebrate Thanksgiving in the United States. Thanksgiving 2020 is unlike any before. In the midst of a pandemic and grave economic uncertainty for millions of people across the land, it could be an easy year to skip over the “giving thanks” part. Yet everywhere I turn, I hear people say that they have a lot to be thankful for. In the face of sadness, grief, frustration, and the longing to hug one another, and at the same time, recognizing more than ever what really matters to them, Thanksgiving 2020 feels like a dance of acceptance and gratitude. 

Sometimes it’s hard to be grateful when we’re facing hard realities. Whether it’s financial or emotional challenges, uncertainties about the future, or missing a loved one at the table, it’s just hard. So this holiday season, if you’re more in an “accepting what is” process than feeling a lot of gratitude, it’s OK.

To accept a reality does not necessarily mean that we like that reality or that we are comfortable with it. It simply means acknowledging it and not pushing against it. Acknowledging what is and being willing to be present with the situation is a first step in finding our way through it. The more present we are in our hearts, the more likely we are to stumble upon little bits of what is happening that we can be grateful for. And each time that happens, a little more light comes in.      

Accepting what is often helps us remember what is important to us. It helps us come back home to who we really are.  

A few days ago, Margo Jay, a Transformational Presence graduate and active member of our community, sent me a reflection she had just written called “What Matters?” Her words and feelings resonated so deeply within me, I asked if I could share it. I was drawn into the all-encompassing nature of her message. And how her words became an invitation, challenging me to discover anew how all of those things she was writing about also really mattered to me.  

As my Thanksgiving gift to you, I share Margo’s reflection. Let yourself read it from wherever you are in the acceptance-gratitude dance. And let it touch you however it does. Thank you, Margo, for the gift of your spirit, your wisdom, and the clarity with which you write. You are a gift.   

What matters? 
by Margo Jay

What matters? How we are together.

It matters that the people I love know I love them. That I hear them, that I see them, that I delight in their presence, their quirkiness, their own unique way of seeing the world and expressing themselves. It matters that they feel at home in the world and that they have a place on this planet, something to contribute. It matters that they can share the things that matter to them. That we can learn and explore together. That we are always growing. That things aren’t stagnant. That we can challenge ourselves and each other. That we can acknowledge each other’s pain and each other’s triumphs. That we can cry and laugh and dance together. And that they hear and see and celebrate me too.

What matters? Nature.

The wonder and the beauty of nature. The glorious sunrises, the sparkling dew on the blades of grass in the morning, the bubbling of a brook, the soothing smell of the balsam branches in a Maine forest. The moss, the lichen, the squirrels, the deer, the autumn leaves of every yellow rusty reddish hue. That there is always change and death and birth and growth and surprise if we take the time to look. That there is always grounding, soothing, calming wisdom in nature’s bounty, though it takes slowing down. There are endless metaphors and joyful whimsy. Endless change and abiding constancy. 

What matters? Curiosity.

That God is hiding everywhere. That when we learn to look in a humble, curious, spacious, generous way, the omnipresence surprises us. If we look too hard, too deliberately, if we try using someone else’s map, it will elude us. If we have preconceived ideas as to form, they will disperse. There is endless mystery. And most of the time, we miss it. But occasionally, if we know how to be curious and open in just the right way, we might catch a glimpse.

What matters? Democracy and doing our part.

Democracy is amazing. We are so fortunate that our forbearers have given us such a great start. They did not get it perfectly. There are plenty of improvements to be made. We are up for the task, but the work will be challenging, and long, and it will be threatening to many. Do not despair, do not give up, we can build back better than before.

What matters? Creativity.

Creativity. Connection. Spacious generosity. What if everything in life were in support of creativity and connection. And what if everything were done, offered, received with spacious generosity?  

What matters? Being open to Life.

Being open to life’s invitations. Accepting the offers and showing up fully. Giving our best to life. Extending offers to others. Not taking it personally when the timing or the offer is not right for another at the time that we offer it. Keep offering. Keep learning from the practice of offering, and growing the ability to make offers that are meaningful to ourselves and to the other. Stay in integrity with yourself.  Hone the gifts that make you sing, not aiming for perfection, but for authenticity.  

Wherever you are in the world, take some time this week to be in your own dance of acceptance and gratitude. Let Margo’s words sink in. Pay attention to what really matters to you. Celebrate the simple yet profound things that warm your heart and bring you joy. Be grateful for the people and places that you love, even if you can’t be with them or go to them right now. 

We will get through this time. We will find our way. And in the meantime, we can celebrate each other and nature and creativity and curiosity and love. We can lean into acceptance and gratitude. Happy Thanksgiving.