'Thanksgiving, Ginger Rogers style is: Thanksgiving as an attitude, Thanksgiving as giving and sharing and mentoring. An attitude, a deliberate decision, not a "once in a life-time" event. Giving is possible when you know what you have been given already. This year we are celebrating the Ginger Rogers' approach to thanksgiving, and it comes to you threefold: As a memoir (see below) from someone who was blessed by Ginger Rogers' generosity and mentoring - as a short film in which you can see Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire dancing in "Too hot to handle" from 1935. And in the form of a daily lift which will support everyone who is struggling with a sense of loneliness right now and who doesn't have someone like Ginger Rogers as a mentor.
Thanksgiving is a holiday observed in the US. I think it should be a world holiday, a holiday in every country, and it should be re-defined to include truly everyone. One day of thanks for all. One day of global gratitude. My husband and I say to you all: Happy Thanksgiving to everyone, everywhere!
My first Thanksgiving
This blog post is an encore, edited slightly. You find both versions on my website.
I continue to be in the "Luther mode", discovering more insights and ideas of his that move me forward as I go along. This is my most recent insight, another wonderful quote by Luther:
"Joy is the graduation cap of faith."
"Die Freude ist der Doktorhut des Glaubens."
In German there is an inbuilt pithy humor within this saying, but in English you get the idea as well. Those, who dedicate their lives to the matters of Spirit, and truly do so, grow out of a sense of burden, out of the stress and strain of daily life, and eventually graduate as joy permeates the heart. Joy is the signature of everyone truly spiritually-minded, it is the sign of an active group of people serving a higher purpose than their own, it is the key feature of unselfishness.
There is a list of qualities that define the result of Spirit in our experience. Paul writes in his epistle to various groups of Christians in Galatia (fun fact: Today a region in Turkey around Ankara, the capital):
"But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!" (Gal. 5: 22, 23. NLT)
Right after love, the second on the list, comes joy. The state of being happy! I observe, that individuals who know something about God and have stepped into the world of unselfishness and spiritual observation, have a certain warmth and glow about them. It is not the joy the stems from well-being, success, or good fortune. It is more than an emotion or feeling. There is no room for doubt or fear left in a heart which feels the presence of Spirit.
There is little space for the story of desperation, which excludes the allness and onliness of Spirit. So if joy doesn't stem from well-being, success, or good fortune, we can now safely say that it stems from spiritual well-being, success, and good fortune - the good life which is the result of divine Love and filled with the yearning for the prospect of seeing more of Spirit in our and everyone's experience.
If the question of "graduation" comes up, we will get the question what subject we are graduating in. What is the content of faith? What is the doctrine? Here is an answer from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy:
"This is the doctrine of Christian Science: that divine Love cannot be deprived of its manifestation, or object; that joy cannot be turned into
sorrow, for sorrow is not the master of joy; that good can never produce evil; that matter can never produce mind nor life result in death." (p. 304)
Can you accept this doctrine? And graduate in the faith? And come up with your own test system, whether you understood it enough to graduate? Is there enough joy in your heart to throw it around like confetti? Joy is the standard, and once you have graduated, you will never unlearn it.
"Joy is the graduation cap of faith!" It is looking pretty good on you.
(You can find the previous posts on "What is joy?" by using the search box on my website. Simple.)
You receive an unexpected, wonderful gift, thoughtfully wrapped. Or a fabulous bouquet of flowers. A friend, a colleague, a family member is presenting it with gratitude and joy. The accompanying card expresses thankfulness for what you are and what you do. How do you respond?
"For me? Really?" or "You needn't have bothered!" or "You shouldn't spend your money and time on me, honey." or "I really don't deserve it".
Look again at these responses: You will have voiced them yourself or have noticed them from others. Do you see a pattern? It is all about "me", not one word about the gift, not one word about the giver. I wonder how a false sense of modesty, how shyness or a twisted concept of good education can cover for long this quite upfront self-centeredness.
Take the offer of our dignity and worth, our spiritual, safe, progressive being as a gift from God to you. How do you respond? After all, it is a priceless offer to have harmony and peace expressed in your human experience, to have physical and mental obstacles overcome, relationships released, supply demonstrated. Do you accept this divine gift with grace? Spiritual texts often describe the offer of a life in God and from God as a gift. Such as these words from a dear hymn #45:
"For this Thy gift unspeakable,
The beauty of Love's holiness,
We lift our hearts in grateful song
And would be always praising Thee."
I received a few months ago a brief e-mail from a patient describing a challenging skin condition. He was embarrassed by this visible handicap. The common treatment for this inherited condition involved high doses of a certain medication, which he was afraid to use. His question was: Should I have medical treatment or should I rely on Christian Science?
With gratitude for this open door to healing I wrote back that I couldn't counsel him, but that I would like to suggest this: Healing is not an achievement, the result of an effort in a certain direction, but a natural gift from God. The question then, I proposed, should be rephrased: Are you willing to accept the gift of healing?
Taking up the analogy of the gift he wrote back that he wanted to open the gift but didn't know where to find the end of the ribbon. In my second response I underlined that it wasn't so much the question of where to start taking the gift apart but what to expect from the gift itself. As with all kinds of gifts, expectation speeds the unwrapping and in the long run it doesn't matter where you start pulling the ribbon or how you open the gift.
The green light for spiritual healing went on. I opened my thought to listen quietly to a healing idea. It came to me in the form of a quote from that week's Bible Lesson: "In patient obedience to a patient God, let us labor to dissolve with the universal solvent of Love the adamant of error, — self-will, self-justification, and self-love, — which wars against spirituality and is the law of sin and death." [Science and Health, p. 242]
I rejoiced in the universal power of Love, embracing the universe, washing away and dissolving by its very nature anything unlike good. A week later I received the note that the very same afternoon the symptoms were suddenly completely gone. A stunning healing to him, an open door for much more to come.
So how do you accept a gift from now on? With grace and joy. And with the only honorable response which honors the giver and gift equally:
"Thank you very much!"
Who is writing?
In my work as Christian Science practitioner and writer I draw on listening to God and listening to people.
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