New Day. New Thought.
I’ve been working on other pieces for over a week, but after the tragedy in Japan, the words I’d written didn’t seem appropriate. Finally overcoming a bout of writer’s block, I was struck by what now seems obvious: two core principles of New Thought are the importance of gratitude and the abundance of the universe. If ever there was a time to focus on these ideas, it is now.
My husband and I are up nights watching the coverage of Japan – first, the devastation from the earthquake and tsunami, then the danger from the nuclear power plants. He keeps remarking on how fortunate we are to live where we do, so far from any real natural dangers. Our family and friends are safe. We have a home and means of supporting ourselves. We have a great deal for which to be grateful.
In his book, Spiritual Liberation, Michael Beckwith says, “evolved people give thanks for what most people take for granted.” Well, I’ve never felt so grateful to have a warm, dry home… and that I don’t have to be anxious when a raindrop lands on my son’s cheeks. I can’t imagine what it must be like for the Japanese parents who are concerned about the very air their children are breathing.
It’s easy to get caught up in the course of a day, worrying about bills, fretting over messes and frustrated by someone else’s actions. But really, what’s so wrong with this moment?
Gratitude, it is said, is a form of humility. It grounds us in the knowledge that while we might not have all we want, we have what we need… and more. Focusing on the good in our lives – from having a home to having a friend – helps us keep a positive attitude in a challenging world.
After a disaster like the earthquake, victims often say, with everything around them destroyed, they are grateful just to have their lives.
And isn’t that a lesson for us all? No matter what roadblock may stand in our way, as long as we wake up breathing, we have the opportunity to change our lives, remake our world. For that, we can all feel grateful.
Beckwith quotes Meister Eckhart, a thirteenth century German theologian, philosopher and mystic, who said, “If the only prayer you said in your whole life was ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.”
The more I appreciate my blessings, both great and small, the more aware I am of all that was washed away, crushed and buried by recent catastrophes around the world. It makes me want to help in any way I can.
More than enough
Followers of New Thought believe in an abundant universe. It may not feel that way these days, but the fact remains the world has resources enough for us all (even if they aren’t well distributed).
When I see the photos of the wreckage left behind by the tsunami, and of the people, now homeless, shivering in community shelters, I can’t begin to imagine how they’re going to clean up the mess, let alone rebuild. My husband told me that the company for which he works is donating $1.2 million. Generous though it is, it seems like a drop in the bucket compared to what’s needed.
But these are the moments – the Boxing Day tsunami, Katrina, Pakistan, Haiti, Christ Church – when we see what is at humanity’s core. We are able, at last, to define ourselves not as our nationality or religion or race but as humans. We reach across borders because we know that among the victims is someone with parents and children, someone who had a home and now has nothing, someone like us. We see ourselves in that stranger and we feel the empathy that can sometimes elude us in other, more divisive and political, situations.
Geography is insignificant – a human life is a human life. Did you know that after Katrina, China gave us $5 million, along with emergency supplies? Countries some consider to be our enemies offered what they could: Afghanistan donated $100,000; Iraq pledged $1 million through the Red Crescent society and Iran offered humanitarian aid and 20 million barrels of oil. This, from our enemies? It shows that in times of crisis, throughout this world, there is no such thing as an enemy. There are only people in need, and people who help. (If you are feeling pessimistic about the state of world affairs, visit Wikipedia and see how the world came together to help us).
Japan provided Katrina’s victims over $14 million in public, private and corporate donations. One Japanese man, alone, donated $1 million of his personal wealth. And thus far, America has donated $50 million to Japan. These statistics are inspirational and a reminder that there is enough in the world and it is human nature to be generous.
With resiliance and fortitude… and assistance, the Japanese people will recover. Despite what we might be led to believe, we do, indeed, live in an abundant universe – abundant in resources, in friendship, in love.
For a list of organizations accepting donations to help the victims of the tsunami, please visit: http://www.google.com/tsunami_relief.html