In an era of daily reminders of that which we are fearful, like the loss of our democracy, the corruption of our government, the failure of checks and balances as greed runs amok with guns through our houses of worship and joyful gathering places, more than ever our souls are grasping for symbols of hope.
Of course the most important step we can take toward regaining some sense of progress or forward motion in this great nation is to vote. I’ll confess that I signed up for absentee voting for convenience, but since trust in the system was lost with ‘hanging chads’, I mailed my ballot and then checked the system to ensure it had not mysteriously gone missing. My vote has been received and accepted. Sigh of relief.
Once we have offered reverence to those who fought so hard to ensure our right to vote, and we have exercised that responsibility (because it would be rude not to), the month of November invites us to breathe deeply and believe in the manifestation of our desire.
Huh… I’d never really thought of voting as a ritual of manifestation before. We start with a desire for something better. We set an intention for what we hope to accomplish. We create a physical representation of our prayer (light a candle – make a wish, write it down – send it out to the universe via flame or USPS), then believe in the very best possible outcome.
Sometimes we receive all that we have hoped for. Sometimes we get what the Universe feels is more important for our personal evolution. And every once in a while… the Universe delivers something better.
That’s why we should never limit our hopes and dreams to something specific. We should always think in terms of manifesting this or better, be it for the good of all.
Whether it is an election year, or not, we can kick off the fall season with a vote – be it by ballot or by spending. When it comes to holiday shopping, for those who partake in such traditions, we can choose to support stores that put their money where our hearts are, we can buy local and support the artists in our communities, or we can invest in the organizations that are providing a better world for those who are struggling. Even better… we can volunteer to serve.
But beyond these external expressions of our good wishes, we may find deep peace in a more internal practice – mindful awareness of that for which we are grateful.
This practice can be something we do privately or in public, such as writing in a journal or posting on social media.
We could dedicate the month to posting a daily gratitude or to making a daily phone call to a different person we would like to thank for their presence in our lives. Oh! Or maybe even doing something archaic… like mailing a love note of caring to people we don’t often see.
I live alone with my cat, Morgan, but for those who sit down to dinner with others, before the meal begins each person at the table could speak their own gratitude. It is a great Thanksgiving dinner tradition, but why not carry it out all month long? I will be sure to remind Morgan that I am happy she found me, grateful for her wellness, thankful for the abundance of this meal each time I place her plate on her kitty placemat.
One November, I cut card stock into strips and tied ribbon to one end and asked visitors to write down something that made them happy, and displayed each sacred memento on a lighted branch in my living room. This was to say to those I love, “I am grateful for your happiness.”
I know there are days when finding something to acknowledge may be challenging. Especially when living in extraordinary times (remember the Chinese proverb which may or may not have been meant as a curse?). If we are willing to look at difficulty from a new perspective, perhaps we can find the goodness even in the hard parts.
Here, let me start and you chime in when ready…
From a broad perspective:
I am grateful for truth and clarity. In the years of the Obama Administration, people on the right said that their disrespect for the President was not for the color of his skin, because they were not racist. In the years that followed the ending of his term, white men who made that claim started marching in the streets with tiki torches, but forgot to wear their white hoods. See? Truth and Clarity. You marched beneath the banner of white supremacy, and you smiled for the camera. We can see you, and we know your truth.
I am grateful for the courageous women who came before me and won the right to vote. I honor their memory each time I complete a ballot or show up to march, be it for a woman’s right to choose her own destiny, or for a child’s right to be educated free from the fear of death by shooting.
I am grateful for the great nations who have been where we are now, and show us what we could be, or will be, when we are finally able to overcome this madness.
From a personal perspective:
I am grateful for being laid off from the corporate world last year. It has given me the opportunity to be present for a dying friend, for a grieving friend, and for my aging parents, in a way that feels far more meaningful than being present for a corporation whose shareholders care more for their pockets than the communities they serve.
I am grateful for the strength of authenticity that enabled my friend to share with me his terminal diagnosis. His willingness to express his grim reality prompted me to ask about his joy. Understanding that he has been given a deadline on living well, reminded me that I may not be able to see my expiration date, but it is certainly there, beneath the fold. As he works toward spending each day focused on what makes him happy, I have decided to do the same. In a way, I honor him by doing so.
I am grateful for the gift of words. Whether for my ability to read the thoughts and concerns of others or to express myself with clarity while seeking hope and understanding, every character is a morsel of sustenance that fills me up and if my intentions are fulfilled, others may be nourished, as well.
Finally, I am grateful for your presence on this sacred path. The light of hope grows in radiance when we are able to pass the flame of mindful awareness, one to another.
Thank you for bringing your light. Now, pass it on!