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It is Thanksgiving in the United States. A time to celebrate life, and to give thanks for the different blessings that we have received–family, friends, love, good health, work, etc.  A time to look beyond the darkness and see the light; a time to appreciate what we have, not what we have not.

To my friends and relatives in the US, Happy Thanksgiving!  I’d like to share this with you…

Once Upon A Grateful Heart


By Steve Brunkhorst

Shane had just turned three years old when I first looked into his sparkling blue eyes. When November arrived, his mother and I took him for his first walk through an autumn forest. Shane was filled with energy and fascinated with the birds, rabbits, and bright colored leaves. He stretched his arms up to me, which was his way of telling me it was time for a ride on my shoulders. He has always expressed his gratitude for those rides—not with words, but—by not wanting to get down!

Two years later, Shane is beginning to understand how thankful I am for his friendship. One night, I told him a story—how once upon a grateful heart, a little boy rode through the woods, making friends with the animals and trees. He identified instantly with the little boy, and I identified with the grateful heart.

In our season of Thanksgiving, we easily recognize obvious blessings, such as the people we love and the things we’ve accomplished—those portions of our cups that are filled. Yet, we fear the portions that are empty—which, when we imagine a cup, is always the top portion.

It may seem difficult to feel gratitude during a slow economy or times of personal loss. We cannot minimize the impact of these events on people’s lives; they require compassionate action, and they often require physical and emotional healing. How, then, can we celebrate life during challenging transitions as well as triumphs?

We can begin by slowing our pace during the Thanksgiving season, focusing our attention on our dearest treasures, and envisioning those treasures filling our cups. In this way, we can begin to create a deep heart-felt gratitude. Let me share with you an example of how the greatest blessings sometimes arrive in the most unexpected ways.

In 2007, one of my friends lost most of his apple crop due to a late spring frost. Throughout the year, the members of his family grew closer to each other. There was less shopping for items that were not necessary, less traveling, and fewer late hours in the orchards. They spent more time at home, talking, enjoying meals together, planning for the future, and getting to know one another as they had never done before. This year, the harvest was plentiful, and his family is stronger, closer, and more resilient than ever.

Slow down purposefully, and enjoy time with family and friends. Share an expression of gratitude with one other person each day. Get to know someone on a deeper level and find what blessings that relationship may hold for you. When our time on earth is complete, the love, kindnesses, and value we have given authentically to others will be our remaining treasures.

Next, we can exercise our freedom to choose beliefs that enable us to create unlimited abundance—to fill our cups of life until they overflow. Doing so begins by creating the emotion of love, holding it in our hearts, and allowing it to grow.

The exuberant feeling this love produces is the kind of contagious exuberance that children such as Shane display. They are curious as to what they will find next, expecting it to be exciting or at least intriguing. They have not learned to block the awareness of the heart’s natural emotion of love. We each have the ability to use this natural emotion to outshine fear and create the context necessary to live with a grateful heart every day of our lives.

God created us in a way that allows our heart-centered beliefs to become the blueprints of our earthly realities. Gratitude resides within our hearts and magnifies beliefs, allowing our desires to manifest in abundance. When they do so, we are able, through gratitude, to accept our expectations exactly as they have manifested. With a grateful heart we can choose to accept what is true through observation and the realization that God acts with a wisdom that never fails. With this truth comes a revelation of joy and freedom….

Gratitude occupies a place in our hearts where we want what God wants—where we allow life’s vast network of threads to work together for a purpose not visible from our physical vantage point. It has been said that ‘all sunny skies would be too bright, all morning too light, all laughing days too much a strain; there must be clouds, and night, and rain, and shut-in days, to make us see the beauty of life’s tapestry.’ When we are ready, we learn that life and creation require opposition—fortune and misfortune, light and shadow, correction and error. We realize that challenging transitions as well as triumphs are the content of this life.

We find that good times and tough times are necessary to strengthen us in spirit. Through a false sense of separation, we come to know unity. Through suffering, we learn to experience healing. When we allow both attainment and loss to guide us, we find that gratitude is a vital healing force that is always available; it will contribute to our physical, emotional, and spiritual welfare. Every season becomes a season of Thanksgiving.

When our time here is complete, we can move on without regret. We will know that once upon a grateful heart, we experienced the complete magnitude of life, accepting all of the gifts we needed to reach our destinies and fulfill our purposes.

May your Thanksgiving season be one of heart-felt joy!

© 2008 by Steve Brunkhorst. All Rights Reserved.