Cultivate a Sense of Awe and Wonder

Splendor in the grass: hay seed high against a blue sky

For lack of attention, a thousand forms of loveliness elude us every day.
— Evelyn Underhill

Life is rich and beautiful, full of wonders. But you have to develop the eyes to see them, and attune your soul to works of God that surround you. Becoming aware is a process of waking up and learning to notice the details that you usually miss.

It is so easy to become caught up in the mundane aspects of life. You get up, go to work, come home to routine chores, watch TV or read the paper, go to bed, and then do it all again the next day. But life is not just a round of chores and work. It’s a vast and amazing mystery.

The night sky is full of starry wonder. Take the time to look up. A kiss from your beloved, a rose blooming in the sun, a squirrel’s antics—any of these can remind you of the mystery and greatness of creation.

Be aware of tiny details. What do you see when you wake up? What do you hear, smell, sense? Pay attention to what is happing around you. Look at a loved one’s face as if you are seeing him or her for the first time. Extend your awareness to the Divine Presence that resides in your heart.

Lift your spirits by cultivating awareness and appreciation of the world around you—and within you. When you see a beautiful sunset, clap your hands with appreciation. When you hold a newborn baby, croon your praises to the creator of all life. Let awe and wonder fill your heart, reminding you that you stand on the threshold of infinite possibilities.  

• Activity: Write a poem, sing a song of praise, or create a piece of art to express your appreciation and thankfulness for the Divine Mystery of life itself.

Affirmation: I affirm the beauty and wonder of life, and see in its infinite possibilities my own possibilities for growth and grace.    

An Abundance Mindset

Apple Blossom Time 

Apple Blossom Time 

This is the gift—to have the wonderful capacity to appreciate again and again, freshly and naively, the basic goods of life, with awe, pleasure, wonder, and even ecstasy. 
Abraham Maslow

Spring is beginning. Enjoy being present, fully in the moment, here and now. Take time, for each moment is a gift. Savor your life right now. Take the gift of life, this present that is wrapped in each moment, and do not steal your own joy away by focusing on the negative, but instead look for the light that is hidden in shadows and blossoms in sunlight. 

Release the past and forgive. You will clear the way for creating a life you love. Your willingness to receive will make room for miracles—miracles you would have passed by in your old mindset of scarcity. Truly practice the art of abundance, and see that Life Itself is the hand of God held out, asking you to share the gifts each day has to offer. 

The art of abundance is finding the provision in what is right in front of you, seeing the hand of God already giving you what you need, moment by moment. Then sharing the abundant blessings God has given with others. And completing the circle of giving by praising the One who gave the gifts for us to enjoy.

I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.
Agatha Christie

One of the hardest lessons we have to learn in this life, and one that many persons never learn, is to see the divine, the celestial, the pure, in the common, the near at hand—to see that heaven lies about us here in this world
John Burroughs

Abundance is… cherry and apple blossoms in the spring.

Choice of attention—to pay attention to this and ignore that—is to the inner life what choice of action is to the outer. In both cases, a man is responsible for his choice and must accept the consequences.
W. H. Auden

Abundance Is…

Celebrating abundance is the best antidote I know of for fear: the fear that whispers there won't be enough for tomorrow, the fear that hisses "things will never improve," the fear that dominates and tortures, telling you that your are helpless and that God has forgotten you. Don't believe it.

Start looking at what you already have. Start with basics like "I'm still breathing." Make it a game to see how many positives there are in your life. Then start counting the little things, the tiny joys a moment can bring. Open your eyes to see the wonder of the world you live in. 

I call this the "Abundance is…" game. Here is a sampling: 
Abundance is… a cool breeze on a summer evening. 
Abundance is… a song to sustain you through a dark night.
Abundance is… blue jays fighting over the birdseed in a bird feeder.
Abundance is… ginger cookies that snap.
Abundance is… the opening chords of the Hallelujah Chorus.
Abundance is… warm hands on a cold winter day.

Start playing this celebratory game by looking at your life. It's not only the little things to be thankful for. It's the things that illustrate potential. 
Abundance… is a full tank of gas. 
Abundance is…a tree loaded with apple blossoms. 
Abundance is…a telephone line that's connected. 
Abundance is…flour, sugar, butter, salt, eggs, a recipe, and a kitchen to bake a cake in.
Abundance is… a smiling four-year-old. 
Abundance is…a box full of kittens. 
Abundance is…an hour to play in the park on a sunny day. 
Abundance is…the first day you feel better after having the flu. 
Abundance is…a crocus peeking its head out of the snow. 
Abundance is the little tight green buds of spring.

Abundance is… a busy airport.
Abundance is… browsing in a fabric store.
Abundance is… when you get more than you anticipated.
Abundance is… sunlight creating rainbows as it shines through a crystal prism.
Abundance is… an understanding friend.
Abundance is… dandelion seeds blowing in the wind.
Abundance is… a thankful heart.
Abundance is…_______________________(make up your own!)

For me and for many of us, our first waking thought of the day is, ‘I didn’t get enough sleep.’ The next one is ‘I don’t have enough time.’ Whether true or not, that thought of not enough occurs to us automatically before we even think to question or examine it. We spend most of the hours and the days of our lives hearing, explaining, complaining, or worrying about what we don’t have enough of…. Before we even sit up in bed, before our feet touch the floor, we’re already inadequate, already behind, already losing, already lacking something. And by the time we go to bed at night, our minds are racing with a litany of what we didn’t get or didn’t get done, that day. We go to sleep burdened by those thoughts and wake up to that reverie of lack….. This internal condition of scarcity, this mind-set of scarcity, lives at the very heart of our jealousies, our greed, our prejudice and our arguments with life…..
Lynn Twist

There is a pervasive form of contemporary violence to which the idealist most easily succumbs: activism and overwork. The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of its innate violence. To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything, is to succumb to violence. The frenzy of our activism neutralizes our work for peace. It destroys our own inner capacity for peace. It destroys the fruitfulness of our own work, because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.
Thomas Merton 

Teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. 
Psalm 90:12 (RSV)

Wondrous is the strength of cheerfulness, and its power of endurance—the cheerful man will do more in the same time, will do it better, will persevere in it longer, than the sad or sullen.
Thomas Carlyle

Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be. 
Abraham Lincoln

Be Open to Unexpected Gifts from the Divine

Valentine Roses for You 

Valentine Roses for You 

our daily calendar tells you that everything is scheduled and accounted for—but your calendar cannot predict the unexpected. Even the most mundane days can hold surprises and gifts from the hand of God, if you are receptive to them. If you have eyes to see, you’ll recognize the loving Presence in all that is. Let the Divine romance you, surprise you, spread the treasures of creation before you. Then you will discover that Heaven is not somewhere far away, but here at work in this commonplace moment. Paper Valentines may come on February 14, but the Universe is sending you a living, loving Valentine greeting every day of the year. 

You thought you were only running errands, but you ran into an old friend in line at the bank. It was just another ordinary day until that glorious sunset took your breath away. You ended yesterday in tears, but the sweet gift of sleep offered soothing relief and the next morning came with a clearer perspective The gloom of rain was chased away by sun shining through parted clouds. A smile, a red rose, a helping hand, a kind word, an unexpected encounter—Divine gifts surprise and delight. 

You may have a sweetheart who will bring you hearts and flowers on Valentine’s day. Or you may be single and wishing for a Valentine greeting from a beloved you have not yet met. Whatever your life holds in the way of human romance, enjoy and express the Divine romance of living in such a beautiful and complex universe. Spend time with the Creator of Romance, allowing the loving Presence of God to comfort your soul. Choose to be compassionate and forgiving when you meet difficult people, recognizing that we are all works in process. Make an extra effort to let friends and loved ones that they are special to you. 

Do something creative to satisfy your soul. Buy a bouquet and make a beautiful flower arrangement. Take a walk and bring a notebook with you for sketching or journaling. Write a poem. Build a birdhouse to welcome nesting birds this spring. Take artistic pictures with your digital camera and turn the best photos into homemade Valentine cards for friends and family. Try a new combination of accessories to freshen up a favorite outfit. Blend a perfume with fine essential oils. Make a delicious meal and share it with someone. Create a romantic atmosphere with candles, incense, and favorite music. 

Most of all, cultivate a mindful awareness of the small gifts that life offers. Breathe in deeply, giving thanks for all life brings, good and bad. Breathe out the cares of life and that which no longer serves you. Be open and appreciate whatever comes as Life itself brings you unexpected gifts for Valentine’s Day—and every day of the year. 

• Surprise someone you love with an unexpected gift—flowers, a card, chocolate—something simple to celebrate life together. Express your love of life in tangible ways: holding the door for someone, a smile, an extra large tip for a hard working waitress, a kind word, an anonymous Valentine for some lonely heart longing for a word of love.

The very commonplaces of life are components of its eternal mystery.
Gertrude Atherton

Look at everything as though you were seeing it for the first time or the last time. Then your time on earth will be filled with glory.
Betty Smith

If we are rooted in the belief that everything God created is potentially holy, we have the capacity to notice that which is beautiful and holy in everyday life. Everything can be seen as a miracle, part of God’s plan. And when we can truly see this, we nourish our souls.
Rabbi Harold Kushner

There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.
Albert Einstein

Your daily life is your temple and your religion. Whenever you enter into it take with you your all.
Kahlil Gibran

If your everyday life seems poor, don’t blame it; blame yourself; admit to yourself that you are not enough of a poet to call forth its riches; because for the creator there is no poverty and no poor indifferent place.
Rainer Maria Rilke

Spiritual love is a position of standing with one hand extended into the universe and one hand extended into the world, letting ourselves be a conduit for passing energy.
Christina Baldwin

The more we have given to ourselves, the more we have to give to others. When we find that place within ourselves that is giving, we begin to create an outward flow. Giving to others comes not from a sense of sacrifice, or spirituality, but for the pure pleasure of it, because it’s fun. Giving can only come from a full, loving space.
Shakti Gawain

In the faces of men and women I see God,
and in my own face in the glass,
I find letters from God dropt in the street,
and everyone is sign’d by God’s name, 
Walt Whitman

To love another person is to see the face of God.
Victor Hugo

Insomuch as love grows in you so in you beauty grows. For love is the beauty of the soul.
Saint Augustine

If the day and night are such that you greet them with joy, and life emits a fragrance like flowers and sweet-scented herbs, is more elastic, more strong, more immortal—that is your success.
Henry David Thoreau

Heaven walks among us ordinarily muffled in such triple or tenfold disguises that the wisest are deceived and no one suspects the days to be gods.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Heaven is throughout the whole world. 
Jacob Boehme

Heaven is within, it revolves around us. It is the real state of Being.
Ernest Holmes

Simple Sensory Rituals

Morning Teatime

Morning Teatime

The ordinary is the extraordinary
Gustav Flaubert

Simple sensory rituals bring comfort and grounding to daily living. They nourish the soul. To observe the ordinary and become mindful of the sacredness of life itself, whether handling daily chores or taking time out for small innocent pleasures, is a statement of profound spiritual power. You wed Heaven and Earth as you focus on the beauty and meaning of even the most mundane task. 

There are many routine activities where I can focus on mindful awareness and a sense of the sacred. Some are simple chores like dishes, laundry, cleaning, and preparing food where I can consciously practice the Presence of God. Others, like emails, writing, financials, and things that take focus and concentration, just have to be made sacred by setting an intention and then doing the work. I don’t make a big deal of rituals for most of these things, though I do love to make time for some kind of ritual in my life.

One of the tasks that can feel like a cleansing ritual is doing the laundry. From dumping the soiled clothing into the washer, and adding soap and warm water, the alchemy of cleansing begins as the soil, stains, and dirt are released and washed away. Drying the clothing is an act of returning to form as the twisted wet cloth relaxes and releases back to a soft and original shape. Then the ceremony of returning the garments to their proper places in closet and drawer makes the clothing accessible, returning them to beauty and usefulness once again. 

Bring the muse into the kitchen.
Walt Whitman

The very commonplaces of life are components of its eternal mystery.
Gertrude Atherton

You are to gather up the joys and sorrows, the struggles, the beauty, love, dreams, and hopes of every hour that they may be consecrated at the altar of daily life.
Macrina Wiederkehr

Some other sensory rituals that lead me to a sense of safety and expansion:

• Cleaning the planters on the first warm day after a long cold winter (or planting, or trimming back, or digging my fingers in good brown dirt).
• A bouquet of roses—and when the timing is right, sunlight and a digital camera to photograph their glorious beauty
• Writing poetry or a song lyric
• Beeswax candles lighting the room and scenting it with honey sweetness
• Essential oils of desert sage, pinon pine, and spruce releasing a high desert fragrance in my home
• Early bed for much needed rest
• Meditation, especially helpful when I’m feeling overwhelmed
• Bells, chimes, rattles, drums
• Colored pens or pencils, a notebook/ crayons and a coloring book
• Singing, especially singing my own songs
• A cup of hot jasmine oolong tea in my hands as watch a sunset 

Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hahn offers many ideas for ways to be mindful and aware in his books and writings. Here is one suggestion:

Prepare a pot of tea to sit and drink in mindfulness. Allow yourself a good length of time to do this. Don’t drink your tea like someone who gulps down a cup of coffee during a workbreak. Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the whole earth revolves—slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future. Live the actual moment. Only this actual moment is life.
Thich Nhat Hahn, The Miracle of Mindfulness