I am writing this at the end of a very nice Thanksgiving Day, which also happened to fall on my birthday this year. It is also a very difficult time in my life, with a lot of uncertainty and loss going on right now. I am exhibiting definite signs of the grief process, with daily crying sessions, as well as some anger, bargaining and acceptance, all stages one goes through in a grief process.
I’ve also been hearing a lot about gratitude this month. This is normal for November, but to be honest, getting to gratitude has been tough for me lately. I just want to go and hide under the covers until “Gratitude Month” is over and done with.
But I also know some spiritual truths: what I give out returns to me, what I think and believe is what I manifest in my life, and when all else fails, service to another human being will allow me to feel better.
So instead of going into self pity on this Thanksgiving/birthday, having some cheese with my whine and generally throwing a very large pity party, I decided I would be of service, do an extra long spiritual practice, and write some tithe checks. To put it bluntly, because I was finding it difficult to be in gratitude, in spite of much to be grateful for, I decided to give. I volunteered to prepare the meal for my family on Thanksgiving. This year we had Thanksgiving dinner at my dad and step mom’s house, but I knew it would be physically difficult for either of them to prepare the meal. So I stepped in and did the grunt work, and enjoyed it thoroughly. It felt good to do that, and I had fun, and it got me out of myself. It helped.
The spiritual practice is just sort of a given. I’ve been doing daily spiritual practices for about 20 years, and those practices, more than anything else, have saved my life. Meditation has lowered my blood pressure and helped with some other healthy issues, as well as contributed to an overall sense of peace and joy in my life. Introspection has allowed me to know who and what I am, and to change without regret that which is not longer working for me. It’s also allowed me to set healthy boundaries in my life, which contributes to an empowering sense of personal responsibility as well as an enlarging of my capacity for compassion. Study of spiritual literature has deepened my understanding of the God within me, as me and through me, which has also contributed to my sense of joy and empowerment. Mind/body work has helped me to successfully deal with some other health issues.
I know first hand the power of spiritual practice, so when life happens in ways that feel more challenging than usual, I do more spiritual practices, not less.
The tithe checks are a big deal. I’ve always believed the authors who write the abundance books; they always include at least one chapter on tithing as a road to abundance. But I’ve never tithed. I’ve given a lot, of my time and energy and talent. I’ve volunteered till the cows come home, but I haven’t tithed. I’ve justified it by saying I simply could not afford it. I’ve given a little bit of money, but I haven’t tithed.
But the reality is that it takes money to run a church. I hear people complain all the time about being asked for money at churches. My response? Who do you think pays for the rent, the lights, the furniture, the phone? Do you think the minister should work for free? Do you think the person teaching the class should do that for free? I don’t, yet I still haven’t tithed.
It’s no wonder I’ve had struggles with money.
Then recently a couple of things have happened that have allowed me to get to a place where I was excited to write tithe checks. First of all, someone tithed to CSL Lake Tahoe. That felt so wonderful and miraculous, and that money will help immensely with growing this fledgling Center. Secondly, I went to a service at CSL Santa Rosa on one of my trips there for school and discovered that they have a program there where they give to local non-profits, and I became excited about doing the same here in Lake Tahoe. I’ve also spent an hour once a week for about the last six months, working with another Practitioner on abundance. And probably most important, after all the study, the repeated instructions to tithe, the teaching of the spiritual value of the practice, I finally have reached a place where I actually got out the check book and wrote out the checks.
And it feels good.
Giving feels good. It just does. And I know that in practicing this spiritual action of giving, I am activating all sorts of powerful laws. And, in giving, I am already feeling a return to a very comfortable and familiar place for me: gratitude.
So if you are tired of hearing about gratitude, and perhaps not feeling so grateful, try giving instead, and see how that makes you feel.