Growth Through Gratitude
“I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes.” e. e. cummings
For the past seven years, I have had the blessed privilege of leading a week-long women’s retreat in Andros, Bahamas. This was another one of those inspirations that came through and I had no idea how it was going to manifest. I held the vision for a number of years, and then one day, out of the blue, I was given the name and phone number of a woman who lived near me in Wisconsin and owned a home in Andros, Bahamas. Trusting this coincidence was Divinely orchestrated, I reached out and we became partners for these retreats. I was inspired to gather women away from their daily lives, introduce them to an unfamiliar culture, and provide them with a venue and theme to guide their healing journey.
I spend many hours preparing for the seven days we are together. What I didn’t plan for was my own healing to unfold, which occurred on various levels. Healing surfaced for me through the encounters and dealings with the retreaters, collaboration with other people, trusting the Universe to bring exactly who needed to be present, and having faith that my financial obligations were met. The big realization came through the recognition of the silent judge within me.
Being immersed in another culture sheds light on our silent prejudices. Who says our culture has the right views on life? Who says our moral standards are the correct moral standards? Where did the seeds of division between those who “have” and those who “have not'' originate? It is as simple as looking at a foreign country and thinking, “Why do they drive on the ‘wrong’ side of the road?”
The Androsians are some of the happiest, most content people I have met. On a tourist brochure I picked up years ago the caption reads: Andros, La Isla d’Espirito Santo (the Island of the Holy Spirit). Indeed, it is a holy place of healing.
Each year, I come away from the retreat with new insights into healing old layers and old patterns. I welcome them and honor them for the blessed gift they bring. Rosemary Verbenone brought me the following message one year as I was preparing for the retreat. I had fallen into the lower energy of worry:
Set the intention of what you want to accomplish and stay with it. As humans, you do this but then you continue to worry. In other words, you think you are in control or are not doing enough. It all comes down to trust--complete trust that all will unfold exactly as it should. Your earthly “needs” are met in other ways. You see it but don’t fully find gratitude. Your worthiness is not based on monetary income. You know this but have yet to embrace it in your heart. All you can do is trust and believe and live from a place of gratitude. Deep gratitude. You have come a long way. Yes, layers have been released. You are ready, my Beloved, to move deeper into your heart. You are a magnificent sovereign being of Divine love! You are loved and supported always!
Of course! Deep gratitude is the key. Sit in gratitude and trust whatever new lessons appear will bring me deeper into my heart. Part of my work in Andros includes offering my healing touch to the local people, mostly women. These strong, beautiful women continually give to their families and their community, often neglecting themselves. There is a law in the Bahamas stating foreigners cannot earn wages. At first, I was cautious as I didn’t want to spend my whole time-off offering free massages. But each gift I offered brought more to me than I could have imagined. The heart-connections made were a blessed gift. Indeed, I’ve come a long way, but I know I will continue to heal layers within myself regardless of where I am on this Earth.
Healing comes in many ways through people, situations, and encounters we have every day of our lives. What areas in your life need a new perspective? Find the pearls to be thankful for and increase your practice of gratitude. Instead of berating yourself, be thankful for the opportunities presenting themselves. Practice gratitude on a daily basis, and you will find your heart expanding. Enjoy the process. I am grateful for you. I am also grateful you are taking the time to read this and develop your own gratitude practice.