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Posts Tagged ‘Thanksgiving’

Fall is my favorite season, a time of bounty, beauty, turbulence, transformation, perpetuation, and possibility. It’s also a season that invites solitude, reflection, and gratitude.

During this season of Thanksgiving, give thanks for persons who have called your name, even if you weren’t aware of them doing so. When others call your name it is a way of acknowledging you… all of  your unique gifts, skills, and talents, which comprise your signature presence.

When others call your name, it is part of a larger pattern of recognizing the importance of an individual and the collective of which we’re all a part. It also recognizes our interconnectedness to one another and all of life, as well as our responsibility to care for one another and our planet.

As we’ve learned from so many cultures where hospitality and harmony are of utmost importance, I cannot exist with you, and you cannot exist with me. In many African cultures, this kind of innate interdependence is an aspect of the spirit of “Ubuntu.” 

When we deeply understand our interconnectedness, we understand the soul of leadership. In Western culture, we sometimes call this stance servant leadership.

As you prepare your heart for your Thanksgiving celebration, reflect on and count your blessings. Be sure to include persons who have come into your life – however briefly – who have extended a kindness to you… a loved one, a friend, or even a total stranger.

This week, take time to fill your heart with and reflect on these questions: Whose am I? Who supports me? Who do I belong to, and who belongs to me? Who has extended graciousness and blessings to me? Who do I extend graciousness and blessings to? Whose name will I call today?

Pass It On!

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As the golden days of autumn give way to auburn, rust, and brown,  we lean toward Thanksgiving, a season of deep gratitude.

Today and always I give thanks for my many blessings – family and friends, children’s laughter, angels and prayers that come into my life, bidden or unbidden, even my breath, which I so often take for granted… but which for some is an immense struggle.

Aunbance is Yours

Abundance is Yours

Many years ago, I wrote “Sanctuary,” one of my many poems of gratitude. I share it with you now as an offering of thanksgiving for a faithful, stout-hearted woman of God… my  mom, Mildred McEwen, and to two amazing men whose legacy of generosity and gratitude changed my life… my father, Earnest McEwen, Jr.,  and William Faulkner.

Who has been a blessing in your life? Have you expressed your gratitude?

SANCTUARY

for William Faulkner and my father, Earnest McEwen, Jr.*

Between the brush of angels’ wings

and furious hooves of hell, two mortal men

fell down. How you must have looked—

white shirt stained, khakis fatigued,

smelling of sweat and smoke,

hair at odds with itself and the world.

At the threshold among your restless dead

in echo and shadow of ancient oaks,

providing sanctuary, offering shade,

you had many worlds behind you,

few yet to be born: stories of insurgence,

scorn, decay—theme and variations

of a vanquished South.

Leaning against a jamb

of antebellum brass, you watched, waited,

raised weary arm and hand, saluted

the familiar stranger. Come. Enter. Sit. Sing.

You reached each other across the grate.

What you two must have known of heaven and hell.


* William Faulkner was my father’s benefactor, paying for him to attend college at a time when he had little

prospects of earning enough money to pay for it himself. This was Faulkner’s way of dismantling institutionalized racism long before desegregation was mandated in the South.

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Harvest blessings.

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Every day is a day of blessing. Today, among my many blessings, I count these and so many more:

  • Family and friends who open their hearts and long arms of love to me again and again, even in the midst of seemingly impossible circumstances. An aunt who recently lost her sister after her long bout with cancer, who cooks daily for her extended family and welcome neighbors into her home anytime, ministering to their many needs.

    Burnished leaves of fall

  • A dear friend who after serving in the Peace Corps in Botswana recently returned to the US. She returned  months earlier than planned so she could cradle her precious grandson to her bosom, the fragile little tyke whose life is a singular blessing from God. All praise for this miracle child and for His loving embrace and protection.
  • A deep bow to my husband, John, my soulmate, friend, and first listener for all my triumphs and trials. Mighty blessings and kisses for my daughter, Quinn, who called me earlier this week for a luxurious conversation. She wanted to be sure she had all the family recipes down as she prepares her very first Thanksgiving dinner. As I combed through my memory for those savory recipes that probably never will be captured in written form, I chuckled at how much I sounded like my own dear mom, “Well, honey… you just need a little pinch of this and about a handful of that… go easy on the butter….”

However you count your blessings, when all is said and done, the blessings we hold most dear are those filled with people and infused with love given and love received.

Have a blessed and joyous Thanksgiving!

Pass It On!

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Just as exercising regularly will help keep you physically fit, having a sense of purpose will keep you spiritually fit—& it will also keep you unruffled when faced with stress.

During the holidays, more than any other time, it’s critical to focus on who & what has heart & meaning in your life. This Thanksgiving, slow down, pause, & reflect on these affirmations:

–  I am authentic & full-hearted in what I say & do.

–  I say Yes to what & who has heart & meaning for me.

–  I can & do say No to others… & say it as a complete sentence.

–  I align my priorities with how I spend my time.

–  I invest in making a difference in others’ lives.

–  I do what I love for work & leisure.

Ask yourself, which of these affirmations apply to you… & what can you do to focus on those that give you a lift & a sense of forward momentum.

Consider the affirmations you can turn into goals—not just for today but throughout the upcoming holidays & into the New Year—to help you stay focused, unruffled, & on track so you can enjoy your loved ones & the many other blessings of the season.

Happy Holidays!

Pass It On!

The truly wealthy give until it feels good.

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Gratitude changes everything.

Today I was talking with a friend, a young mother of three. She told me that in the past several days, she was overcome with a spell of grumpiness… brought on by who knows what. When she was at her grumpiest, her husband reminded her that what we pay attention to multiplies. Not surprisingly, when she remembered the gift of gratitude & focused on her blessings… her grumpiness was replaced with thanksgiving… & joy!

In this harvest season, many of us in the U.S. are preparing for the Thanksgiving holidays. Time with loved ones, a savory meal, shared memories. Whether or not you celebrate Thanksgiving, know that gratitude changes everything.

This is a season to pause… & to thank God for all the goodness He has blessed you with—your family, friends, health, employment, & whatever talents you have.

In each of our lives, there are so many good things we take for granted.

When you pause, ask yourself: who or what are you grateful for in your life? Your children, wife, husband, parents, special friends? Your health, job, home? All the wonderful people in your life who cherish you simply for being you?

In this season, let us remember to count our blessings & to humbly give thanks. And let us remember that gratitude is as necessary as air. In fact, it is essential “…for human growth, joy, and creativity. Take away the daily experience and expression of gratitude, and life is quickly diminished. Like a weakened immune system, the spirit is left vulnerable to the diseases of cynicism, anger, low-grade depression, or at least an edgy sense of dissatisfaction. Gratitude-deprived, we suffer a relentless loss of vitality and delight.”**

Gratitude changes everything.

Pass It On!

** Excerpt from Seasons of Grace, by Alan Jones, former Dean of Grace Cathedral, & John O’Neill, President of the Center for Leadership Renewal

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