I have just returned from Grand Rapids, Michigan, where I was warmly hosted by a colleague and his remarkable family for a weekend experience of sharing my thoughts about gratefulness as a spiritual path. Grand Rapids is a small Jewish community but what it does not have in numbers it certainly more than makes up for in warmth, generosity, dedication and genuine commitment to Judaism.
I was invited to teach but in fact it turned out that I was the student. At each occasion of this kind, I discover that people of all walks of life, of varying ages and experiences, emerge as sources of enriching and inspirational insights and ideas. As they honestly share their struggles with becoming more grateful and how it impacts on their lives, I gain a deeper and broader clarity of gratefulness' depth and scope for myself and as a concept shared by others.
One example will suffice.
Friday night I spoke of the meaning of gratefulness and pointed out its origin in the word-grates-which suggests something we receive freely, namely our very lives. One woman approached me and excitedly indicated that not only is gratefulness a response for receiving something free, but it is an approach to life that makes us free. In other words, the way to freedom is the way of gratefulness. She feels freer each time she is in touch with her ability to feel grateful for her life. Of course I could not help but appreciate that insight in light of the rapid approach of Passover, the season of our freedom. The gratitude of others elicited my own sense of gratitude and I came to learn how infectious gratefulness can be and the blessing it could bring to others.
In the spirit of gratefulness I extend myself freely to have conversations with others about this vital spiritual idea. Invariably, I am handsomely rewarded with deepened levels of gratitude for the privilege of enriching the lives of others.
Thank you Grand Rapids-Blessings for abundant gratefulness in the future.