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(E) Gratitude changes our lives
By Nenad N. Bach | Published  01/6/2002 | Humor And Wisdom | Unrated
(E) Gratitude changes our lives
    Philosopher Josef Pieper defines the essence of bourgeois 
living as "taking for granted." It is true that those who live in 
homes where the water always runs through spigots take water 
 for granted. And when people always have money they take their 
next meal for granted. Our lives are filled with assumptions 
about the universe serving us all the time. This is false thinking. 
Will it take catastrophes to awaken us to the truth that all is gift? 
    An earthquake reminds us that not even the stability of the 
ground underneath our feet should be taken for granted. Death 
reminds us that not even breathing itself can be taken for granted. 
As the forests disappear and the soil and waters become increasingly 
 poisoned, we learn that we cannot take air or water or soil for granted. 
    One way to learn not to take for granted is to voluntarily do without. 
This is best done in a ritualized context where the community does 
without together and supports one another through the difficult process 
of letting go. 
    For example, go without water for three days. Go without food for five 
Go without meat for two weeks. These are ways to learn to cease taking 
for granted. Every overdeveloped person and culture should undertake these 
periods of fasting. In doing so we learn the basics of gratitude, for not one 
of us 
created the waters or the air or the soil or the foods that we take for 
Fasting also allows us to identify, at least partially, with those millions 
of the 
world's poor who can never take eating a meal or drinking good water for 
    Gratitude changes our lives. It fills us with energy and vitality. When 
I was twelve years old, I had polio and could not walk for six months. The 
doctors could not reassure me that I would ever walk again. As it turned out, 
I did get my legs back. But I learned a lesson in the process that I have 
forgotten: don't take for granted. 
I had taken my legs for granted, legs that work , legs that run and play 
legs that take me exactly where I want to go. When my legs returnd to me I 
filled with gratitude-not gratitude for the "miracle" of my legs being 
healed, but 
rather gratitude for having legs at all, legs that work. I was filled with 
energy and 
promised myself that I would not waste my legs for as long as I lived. 
                        FROM WASTE TO RECYCLING 
One of the overwhelming sins of the "First World" is that of waste. WE are a 
civilization whose major product is waste, and we appear to be the only 
species that wastes more than it recycles. What we give back to the universe 
 is often not blessing-it is poisonous and nonrecyclable goods. The 
 industry-that industry that was the very first to support a young politician 
Adolf Hitler in German politics sixty yearg ago-has developed plastics and 
Styrofoam that appear simple and cheap but in fact cannot be disposed of even 
in five hundred years. 
    Our cities are being inundated by our own refuse. We have no way of 
 with the nuclear waste that has proliferated from military and 
civilian power plants. This lethal plutonium will "live" for at least another 
years: Joanna Macy suggests that instead of burying this radioactive waste in 
order to deny it, thus making life intolerable for generations to come, we 
to keep it visible above ground, and build monasteries around it to remind us 
of its lethalness and our mortality. These "guardian sites' would become holy 
places of pilgrimage for persons who regard the planet as a sacred trust. 
    We also waste our youth and their talents and gifts. When hope dies, 
takes over. Whether that waste is expressedin the form of crime or drugs, 
or prison, despair or sexual addiction, it is living proof of the depth of 
waste that 
haunts our consumer society. 
    How does a consumer society stop wasting? By restoring relationship to 
center of our lives and life-styles. If we considered our relation to generat 
ions to 
come, for example, we would cease giving out plastic bags in grocery stores. 
 Recently I accompanied a friend (who is an extrovert) to a supermarket late 
at night. "Plastic bag or paper?" 
    She replied in full voice, "Plastic? Plastic won't disappear for 500 
    The cashier sheepishly responded, "Our manager tells us to push the 
because it is cheaper." ............... 
The greatest waste of all is the waste of our human gifts for ingenuity, good 
work, healing and joy. If "joy is the human's noblest act," then to waste our 
gift for creating joy it is to squander the noblest 
potential of our species. 
(book Creation Spirituality Matthew Fox) 
... All diseases come into our bodies through the foods that we eat the only 
way to 
get rid of them is through fasting.... 
Submitted by Mirna 
distributed by CROWN - - 
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