December is an odd month for Jews. Of course, we celebrate Chanukah on most years; sometimes this holiday falls in November. The rest of the month we are forced to listen to Christmas music and to look at Christmas decorations. No wonder we end up eating Chinese food and going to the movies on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. There’s not much else for us to do.
This year we also had to listen to a ton of talk about the Mayan calendar and about how the world might be ending on December 21. Well, it didn’t, and Christmas still came and went–and now we are waiting for the secular New Year.
Despite all of this stuff that usually makes me feel quite grinch like, this year I only fee gratitude.
Hmmm. Seems that maybe something is indeed in the air, and I’m not talking about Christmas spirit.
Supposedly the end of the Mayan calendar, which stops abruptly on December 21th, 2012, marks the end of one era of consciousness and the beginning of a new one. (The Kabbalists have a different timeframe for this big change but definitely see the change happening. They claim it is happening in small steps,and all the end of the Mayan calendar with it’s change in consciousness is just one step toward the larger changes predicted.
In fact, the new era heralds a new consciousness. From a Jewish mystical perspective, we are meant to shift our thinking in a way that might feel radical for some—and gratitude definitely plays a part in this.
The Kabbalists tell us that God created us as receivers. This explains the huge amount of desire we have to create all sort of things in our lives (physical, emotional, mental, etc.). We are programmed to want to receive. We draw things to ourselves via our desires.
Now we must focus more on being like God and giving as well as receiving. This doesn’t mean we don’t continue to have desires or don’t open ourselves to receiving. We simply focus our attention on giving—and doing so unconditionally. We become more like God, who is a Giver.
Where does gratitude come into this? Someone once told me the most powerful prayer I could offer was one of gratitude. I think about that every time I see observant Jews go about their days—or rather “hear” them do so. They constantly offer blessings (100 a day if they can). Interestingly, the so-called blessings are not for the object in front of them, for example, a meal, or for an experience, say, the birth of a child; the blessing is for God. They don’t say, “I bless this food,” or “I bless this child.” Instead, they say, “Blessed are You, God, who…” These words that bless God begin each and every blessing and basically offer thanks to Source. “Blessed are you, God, who give me the fruit of the vine.”
This is their gift to God–gratitude
How is gratitude a gift? Have you ever noticed how good you feel when someone thanks you for something you’ve done for them? That’s the gift.
Here’s how it works: Someone gives you something. You receive it. When you accept what they gave, you feel good. This gives something back to the giver—a good feeling. You become a giver. If you consciously add gratitude to that gift, you amplify it.
So, the idea is to give unconditionally…even if all you give is gratitude. But give–a little something every day.