On an especially serene day in September, I am invigorated by the chilly afternoon wind blowing through the open sunroof of my vintage sports car, while listening to my favorite Jazz playlist. Could life be any better? I whizz up steep grades and zip around the sharp curves of the Scenic Byway US-14. I roll down the driver side window and tilt my head out to observe the towering quaking aspen trees. The yellow, orange and red, heart-shaped leaves flutter in the breeze. Slowing down, I am lulled into deep contemplation at the contrast of the changing fall foliage—the colorful changing aspen trees standing next to the unchanging Douglas-fir and bristlecone pine trees.
Change and sameness, side-by-side, I sigh. I begin pondering, again, on how rapidly the world as we know it, is changing.
We, as a society, and indeed our own St. George community, are experiencing a period of monumental change. Large numbers of former tourists are now homeowners and neighbors, exciting new businesses and splendid master planned communities are popping up everywhere. Profound shifts in the global essential elements of social, health, economic, educational, political and technological systems remind us that these new changes are affecting us in ways never imagined.
Which is why I love the fall season and particularly the Thanksgiving holiday.
Thanksgiving, this traditional holiday festival, deliciously celebrated and wedged into our busy lives, provides a wonderful opportunity to remember the proverbial truth: Everything changes. Constantly.
Like the soon-to-be-barren trees, stripped by winter’s frost, we inescapably must slow down and intuitively pause to quiet the mind and body. Being in nature and experiencing the change of season reminds us to be grateful for change.
The word “Thanksgiving,” itself gives us pause—“thanks,” meaning kindly or grateful thoughts and “giving,” meaning make a present of. Both together, experienced in two-part harmony, creates gratitude. And now is the time to dig deeper roots to cultivate a stronger attitude of gratitude.
From Cicero to Buddha, many philosophers and spiritual teachers have celebrated gratitude. The world's major religions, including Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Hindu, cite gratitude as a morally advantageous emotional state, a frame of mind, that encourages compassion for oneself and humanity.
Scientific evidence now proves what your great-grandparents extolled and knew instinctively years ago: Gratitude is an indispensable sign of virtue, and an integral part of our health, wholeness, and well-being.
If we’re moving and breathing, change is inevitable.
Social scientists believe those of us who survive during times of tumultuous change—and survive well—are not necessarily the most intelligent nor the strongest but those who respond well to ongoing change.
Ah, but true change can be difficult. Especially, in times of crisis. Sometimes, we often believe if things remain the same we are safe, secure. But, just like adolescence and aging, harvesting corn and pruning rose bushes, change through growth, is often a wild and puzzling experience, and sometimes it can be emotionally, spiritually and physically painful.
Dear reader, as a community, let us, collectively, generate a newfound sense of our community spirit, whereby we experience anew, the awe and wonder of living in a community that is changing and thriving in glorious ways. Let us be grateful in thanksgiving for the marvelous opportunities we have in St. George to live in harmony, with the varied differences between our vibrant newcomer citizens and our passionate and seasoned Red-‘D’irt in your shoes neighbors (pun intended, with gratitude).
As we prepare Thanksgiving feasts, organize family festivities and begin to pen holiday correspondences with salutations of peace on earth and good will to all, may we also reaffirm our belief in the interconnectedness of all life and continue to nourish our commitment and responsibility to our family, friends and neighbors.
Mother Nature gives us the greatest clues: The taller and stronger the tree, the deeper the roots. And my favorite, one grain of sand, nestled together over eons of time becomes a mighty mountain.
This holiday season will be as significant to our collective community as we allow and imagine it to be.