From the Rule of Saint Benedict: live this life and do whatever is done, in a spirit of thanksgiving. Abandon attempts to achieve security, wealth, or salvation and come to comfortable rest in the certainty that those who participate in this life with an attitude of thanksgiving will receive its full promise.
Often as we wake and greet the day we are confronted by voices of fear and anxiety. These voices point to all the ways that we are unsafe, and all the ways in which what we have is fragile. These voices put us on edge and cause us to see danger and enemies at every corner. We are in a constant state of fight or flight.
The words of Saint Benedict remind us that there is a better way. The way of thanksgiving. When we can start our day not by giving in to the voices of fear and anxiety, but by understanding they are only voices from the staying alive machine that is our brains. We can even be thankful for these voices. We thank them for reminding us that we are alive, that we have so much, and that we are meant for meaningful work in the world. Then we can take a moment, feel our breath, and connect to all those things we must be thankful for. Our homes, our families, our place in the world, the work that we do, our friends, the air we breathe, and the water we drink. This is the practice or savoring, the act of connecting to the blessings in our lives. This practice requires that we are awake to those blessing, that we see them in the moment, that we connect to them, and we allow this connection to grow thanksgiving in our hearts.
When we savor it changes our relationship to the world, instead of seeing enemies at every corner we start to see friends. We start to see human persons with common hopes and desires for their lives. We extend to each other kindness and grace, and we may even learn a better way of listening to each other, even when we disagree on the topic.
When we live in thanksgiving, savoring the blessing in our lives, we start to see the blessing are more than the challenges. This is a truth that I see repeatedly in my work as a counselor. One powerful way of connecting to thanksgiving in your life is to volunteer. The act of volunteering is helpful in getting us connected to thanksgiving. When we step into the lives of other who need assistance and support we step away from the fearful voice that often dominates our internal worlds. Volunteering exposes us to moments of blessing and helps us to savor and turn on our thanksgiving.
So, to those that volunteer thank you for your example. And to those who struggle with fearful and anxiety voices in your head, remember to breath and savor the blessings, and consider giving of yourself to another as a volunteer.
Garrett Price, MASF, CPC, CSD
Senior Vice President of Education
Heart ‘n Home Hospice & Palliative Care