If there were a spiritual practice assigned to the month of November, it would undoubtedly be the practice of gratitude.
With the Feasts of All Saints’ and All Souls’ and Thanksgiving (at least here in the US) acting as bookends for the season, we begin the month of November by expressing gratitude for those who have gone before us through the practice of remembrance and end the month—and the liturgical year—surrounded by loved ones as we feast and give thanks for the blessings in our lives.
The practice of gratitude has especially grown in popularity over the past few years, even in seemingly-secular realms. A google search for “practicing gratitude” came back with over 5 million hits, including articles from popular periodicals and online news sources such as Psychology Today and The Huffington Post, many of which tout the benefits of the practice. Even Oprah keeps a gratitude journal these days, most likely inspiring millions of others to follow suit.
It seems that whether it’s Thanksgiving day or a Tuesday in April, gratitude is in the air, and that’s something to be grateful for, because these glimpses of gratitude—like any spiritual practice—call us to return and remember, serving as invitations to ponder what we, too, are grateful for and encouraging us to cultivate a gratitude practice of our own.
When I was young, my family had season passes to Silver Dollar City—an 1880s inspired theme park located a short drive from our home in Southwest Missouri. Pioneers, covered wagons, and banjos abound at Silver Dollar City, and one of the activities children could participate in was panning for gold (fool’s gold, I’m pretty sure). To do this, we’d place a shallow metal bowl deep into the water and then slowly lifted it up, gently sifting away dirt and debris to see if something shimmered.
To me that’s what the practice of gratitude feels like—sifting through the dirt and debris to find the thing that shimmers. Somedays, the gold is numerous and easy to see. Often, there’s a slight shimmer beneath the surface, requiring some sifting to get it free. At other times you have to try more than once, dipping your pan a little deeper and skimming the bottom to find a piece of gold to hold onto.
Whether that thing that shimmers is big or small, difficult to uncover or easy to spot, one thing is certain: when you begin to notice and name the things you are grateful for, your perspective starts to shift and the world begins to shimmer, leading you to the Divine—the real Gold—both without and within.
I’ve never had a consistent gratitude practice. I’ve yet to join the ranks of Facebook users who list something they’re grateful for each day in November. But I’m in need of a little gold, so I’m going to start sifting. Throughout the month of November, I’ll be sifting through each day, looking for what shimmers and sharing it on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter with the hashtag #GlimpsesOfGratitude.
It’s not a month-long challenge, so I probably won’t be posting every day. And while November serves as an excellent prompt to consider what we’re thankful for, practicing gratitude shouldn’t just be a practice allocated to November, so this practice won’t end at the end of the month, either. I simply want to begin noticing and naming what I’m grateful for, no longer letting the things that shimmer pass me by.
I’d love for you to join me by sharing your #GlimpsesOfGratitude on your favorite social media platform, too. Together we’ll pan for gold and pocket our glimpses of gratitude as if they’re a lifeline, because they are; together we’ll cling to what shimmers because it leads us to Gold.
What’s shimmering for you today? What glimpses of gratitude have brought you delight?