By Janet Morrissey
“The greatest thing is to give thanks for everything.
She who has learned this knows what it means to live.
She has penetrated the whole mystery of life. –Albert Schweitzer
I’ve pondered this idea for years. I found the concept of surprise being the key to gratitude, but how can surprise be a huge part or rather the whole of gratitude?
Think back to a surprise you’ve had recently. It can be a big surprise like you received a gift you’ve always longed for—-or, a small surprise like the bloom of a rose when you least expected it. Some surprises we say thank you quite readily, but how do we show gratitude for everything?
Br. David Steindl-Rast O.S.B. in his book, Gratefulness, the Heart of Prayer, says the same thing: “Everything is gratuitous, everything is gift.” He goes on to say, “The degree to which we are awake to this truth is the measure of our gratefulness—-and gratefulness is the measure of our aliveness.”
So how does surprise work. As I write this I got a phone call. Now, I did not want to get up and take it because I was just getting started on this piece of writing. Lo and behold, it was a lovely surprise—-a friend calling to wish me a happy birthday. My intellect started to balk with this interruption, but I decided to take the time and relax and enjoy the well-wishes. Steindl-Rast says we need to wake up and become aware. Our intellect, our will and our emotions need to become engaged. We need to practice looking for the kernel of surprise which our intellects help us to do, but this can be hard because of our critical, judgmental, and doubting mind. We must be willing to recognize the gift and the giver and give thanks.
How do we start? First, we must wake up and start training ourselves to look for surprises, the big extraordinary ones (usually they are easy to recognize) and the everyday ordinary ones. Next we ask ourselves what is the opportunity here to enjoy life. Opportunity is the key word to remember even when a surprise seems to not be something I would be grateful to receive. As we grow in awareness of opportunities, it becomes easier to see each moment as joyful. These three steps may help you remember: awake, aware, and alert. “Our intellect recognizes the gift as a gift, our will acknowledges it, but only our feelings respond with joy and so fully appreciate the gift.” (Steindl-Rast)
I suggest you try it. Some people write in a journal each day about their surprise. There will be many as you progress. This type of journeying will help a person become more aware and alert to all of life. Some people recall the day of surprises before they fall asleep. Some react as soon as they are aware of a surprises during the day. It takes a little practice.
Perhaps, some of you might tell us at the Gathering during storytelling time about your surprises and how this worked for you. Did this change your life? Did you look at things differently? Another surprising thought from Steindl-Rast, “Gratefulness makes us young. By growing more grateful, we grow younger everyday.”
See you soon,
University Guest House is Sold Out for CC25 Gathering
The University Guest House is sold out. If you have already made a reservation you are fine. We have 55 rooms guaranteed. A limited number of rooms are available at the Hampton Inn Foothills which is only a mile away from the University. The Inn has committed to providing a shuttle to/from each day to our meeting site at NO CHARGE. Full breakfast is included. Six double rooms are available for single or double at $139. They have 10 king rooms at $139 and a few King Suites that also have a pull-out Queen bed in the space at $149. Please call 801-583-3500 before September 8, 2017 to reserve your room. Please mention that you are with Crones Counsel to secure these rates. If you have any questions or problems, please email Kaye Chatterton at email@example.com.
Three weeks ago, at the beginning of the busiest week of our “U-Pick” blueberry season, a sharp pain in my lower back accompanied by scream worthy muscle spasms struck as I was simply standing up from pulling a few weeds. Ouch. To say the least. Ice, smelly liniments, herbal oils, Arnica and a very patient mate saw me through the next week or so as I tried to do my berry shack duty – this stubborn Scot wouldn’t let go and I ‘didn’t have time’ to seek professional help.
A few days ago as I was lying on the floor with my new BFF, the ice pack, feeling sorry for myself and worried about all the things that weren’t getting done, I remembered Irene Miller, age 95, telling her story at CC 24 in Denver. Her parting words were “When you need help, ask for it!” It was one of the signs that you were on your way to becoming Crone.
So, I’ve finally asked for help and am on a nine week treatment plan to strengthen and compensate (not eliminate) the arthritis in my spinal column that led to this current situation. The plan includes — gasp – lots of rest and until I’m stronger, avoiding those things that got me here!! Meanwhile, the vegetable garden is pretty much a loss; my flower beds are weedy; my morning power walks around the farm are on hold and life goes on. I’ve had to ‘let go.’ My patient mate has picked up many of my usual chores and most importantly, hasn’t given up on me.
It’s a real challenge and humbling for this independent to be dependent but I’m trying to heed Irene’s sage advice and ask for help. Because, right now, I need it.
Have you ever considered looking into who your ancestors are and where they came from? You have probably seen a variety of television programs that show certain celebrities tracing the history of their families. It really is fascinating to see how a family search reveals new information and unknown connections to stories of courage, risk, change, talents, accomplishments that represent ancestors on a family tree. Understanding the lives of your progenitors seems to broaden the answers to “who am I?”
There are a number of methods and differing companies that will help you uncover your past for a fee. Many people are paying to swab their DNA to have an analysis that gives a detailed print out of your gene pool origins. There is a resource that is headquartered in Salt Lake City that provides the best collection of public records, ship manifests, photos and even stories about people who lived all around the world. This amazing resource is called the LDS Family History Library. This library is sponsored by the LDS (Mormon) Church and is offered free to the general public without charge. For the past 110 plus years the Mormon church has collected pertinent records from all over the world that make it possible to search the history of your family. The collection is on-line or you can visit the Library Center or its satellites for assistance with finding the right path to the information you seek.
Crones Counsel is providing a coordinated workshop and field trip to the Family History Library for participants at this year’s gathering. If you have ever wanted to have help to get started to explore your family genealogy, or help when you need some direction or reach a dead-end, this is a great opportunity for you to jump start getting to know your personal family history. Laura Osburn is a local Salt Lake Crone who has done lots of work in exploring her own genealogy. She has used the Family History Library extensively, and has knowledge and passion for the discovery process. Laura has many of her own artifacts to share with you and will lead this two part workshop and coordinate a field-trip excursion to the downtown center on Friday afternoon October 7 , and during free time on Saturday afternoon October 8. To be able to accommodate this workshop group, we must ask that you pre-register in advance. We will most likely need to limit the size of the group to 25 and will do so on a first come, first registration basis.
Once you have registered Laura will contact you and provide you with the information you need to fill out and bring with you to the workshop.
I recently attended a national gathering that included ‘women of a certain age’ where I was asked to fill out a ‘personal health form.’ At first I was offended, but when I thought about the number of times I have seen a medical emergency occur, I realized this probably was a smart thing to do.
So, I now have attached to my medical insurance card, a brief list of that information otherwise not quickly available:
• My emergency contact with their phone number,
• my medication allergies,
• and a list of anything medically related that might cause unexpected grief, such as an allergic reaction to something in the environment.