Gratitude is a key that opens the door to the flow of unconditional love through your heart. The heartfelt expression of gratitude, either in words or in thought, focuses on the plenty that you have rather than anything that may be missing in your life.
The traditional American holiday of Thanksgiving dates back to the early pilgrims in Plymouth Colony, Massachusetts in 1621. As pilgrims, they were inclined to fast and pray for all the things that they desperately needed.
When Founding Father Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) wrote of those times, he understood the great value of gratitude. He said:
"There is a tradition that in the planting of New England, the first settlers met with many difficulties and hardships, as is generally the case when a civilized people attempt to establish themselves in a wilderness country. Being so piously disposed, they sought relief from heaven by laying their wants and distresses before the Lord in frequent set days of fasting and prayer."
All that praying and fasting, he said, made them "gloomy and discontented." Happily, he went on, a farmer "of plain sense" suggested to the Pilgrim Assembly that instead of continuing to bother the Lord with their complaints and requests, they for once thank Him for the blessings they had been given. For although times were still hard, things were getting better.
Instead of a fast, the farmer suggested, it would be more fitting to proclaim a day of thanksgiving. His advice was heeded, and "from that day to this," as Franklin said, we have "every year observed [these] circumstances of public felicity."
In the case of the pilgrims, gratitude opened them up to receiving ever more of the blessings of nature. Prior to that, their want had been closing down the natural flow of abundance and making their circumstances seem even harder than they were.
Giving thanks is the expression of gratitude, and gratitude is one of the most beautiful secrets in spiritual life.
Gratitude is a form of love, and love is something which flows from the Creator of the universe through all forms of life and manifestation. Without love, life in the universe cannot exist. Love is the universal force of preservation which holds creation in manifestation.
The Natural Flow of Love
Love is as natural as the universe. By design, there is a tension between the forces of creation and universal love. It is this tension which controls the size of the universe, holding it within its envelope. It is this tension which regulates the size of an electron's orbit around a nucleus. Love is the force which retains electrons in their orbits, making atoms possible and the existence of life as we know it.
You can block love, or you can allow it to flow naturally through you. Falling in love with another person is an allowance of the flow of love through your heart. In a world where everything has the appearance of separateness, it is a surrender to the underlying unity of all life. It is a place of apparent vulnerability, a willingness to take the risk that separation will once again return if that love is later lost.
When you allow your heart to open to the universe's flow of love, gratitude comes with that flow. Gratitude for being alive, for just existing, for just being in the flow of the adventure of life. Gratitude for the Sun that gives us life. Gratitude for the Earth that gives us our home in the cosmos. Gratitude for the people that you love, and for those who share your journey through life.
Gratitude flows unimpeded from an open heart. When you allow it, it flows as freely as the sunshine, unobstructed by judgments or conditions.
Quality of Life
One of the most endearing things a person can say to a loved one is this:
"I'm grateful for having you in my life, and I appreciate you for who you are."
If you haven't already tried this, try it sometime. It adds new meaning to the words, "quality of life."
Courtesy of Owen Waters, www.spiritualdynamics.net