When we keep claiming the light, we will find ourselves becoming more and more radiant. Nouwen, Life of the Beloved.
Today’s experiment is about developing a practice that helps you to keep claiming the light all throughout your day. Situations and people can be seen as threats to shinning your light, but they can also be seen as opportunities for you to keep claiming your light. Here is what Nouwen has to say,
“Gratitude is the most fruitful way of deepening your consciousness that you are not an “accident,” but a divine choice. It is important to realize how often we have had chances to be grateful and have not used them. When someone is kind to us, when an event turns out well, when a problem is solved, a relationship restored, a wound healed, there are very concrete reasons to offer thanks: be it with words, with flowers, with a letter, a card, a phone call, or just a gesture of affection. However, precisely the same situations also offer us occasions to be critical, skeptical, even cynical because, when someone is kind to us, we can question his or her motives; when an even turns out well, it could always have turned out better; when a problem is solved, there often emerges another in its place; when a relationship is restored, there is always the question: “For how long?”; when a wound is healed, there still can be some leftover pain…Where there is reason for gratitude, there can always be found a reason for bitterness. It is here that we are faced with the freedom to decide. We can decide to be grateful or to be bitter.
We make choices every day to be grateful or to be bitter. To begin, write out a situation that happened recently where you chose gratitude. Then, write out a situation that happened recently where you chose to be bitter. Now, rewrite the second story with eyes of gratitude.
After you have spent time with a previous situation, commit to taking 1 day to put on “gratitude glasses.” These glasses hold the lens of gratitude from which you will view the world. When a situation arises or a person threatens to smash this lens, consider what part of the situation/what part of the experience of this person can you see through the lens of gratitude.
Recently, we were snow tubing. We stood in long lines to take a 30 second thrill ride down a large hill. Families and friends all met up in these long lines so that they could ride and experience the fun together. While at the park, we realized that the “rule” seemed to be that families should stay together. This played out by people cutting in lines. Kids ran up to the front of the line to catch up with their parents. Friends held spots for other friends. Dads held spots for their families while moms took the kids to the bathroom. At one point in the day, I asked Chad to go ahead and get in line so that I could wait for the children and we would all meet up. As soon as we found Chad, we ran up and cut in the line so that we could all be together. Immediately, the lady in front of us started yelling and throwing a fit about how impolite we were being. She went on and on about how she was teaching her kids to be polite while we were setting such a poor example. We apologized for how this made her feel, BUT WE STAYED WHERE WE WERE.
For a while after this confrontation, I thought about the situation. What I came to be grateful for was the opportunity to consider how we each come into situations with a different set of “rules.” Our family came with the rule that all families should stay together and experience the fun together even if that meant cutting in line or that we had to wait longer so your group could cut in line. Our experience with this 1 lady showed me that she came with the rule that cutting is impolite no matter what. When our rule collided with her rule, things got tense. Her rule is not a bad rule. Our rule is not a bad rule. They are just different sets of rules! It’s like trying to play a game together when 1 person is given a set of instructions and the other person given an entirely different set of instructions. Things Get Tense! Whose right? We both are!
Gratitude allows us to open our hearts to situations for learning and growth.
Let’s do this together!