Life offers us the opportunity to love deeply. To laugh loudly. To dance wildly.
Let us offer life something in return.
Let us give back.
Let us give gracious offerings.
What are gracious offerings?
To offer something in return for a blessing expresses a grateful heart. It expresses the ancient ebb and flow of the ocean; the yin and yang of life and; the full moon cycle.
You will find offerings of many kinds in different cultures. For example, offerings of money are used in religious ceremonies. Some Native Americans offer tobacco to the land. They offer when taking something from the Great Spirit. While co-leading a VisionQuest to Peru, I participated in offerings made before eating every meal. We splashed water from our glasses into the air and left a small bite of food on the plate.Why? To acknowledge the Pachamama or Mother Earth–the Source of this abundance.
Gracious offerings are a way of life in Bali. “Walk down any street on Bali, and the first things you’ll see by your feet are the daily (offerings) canang-“chanang’, or small, square woven baskets made from cut coconut leaves and filled with flowers…”
On yet another VisionQuest, I learned how to make these gracious offerings from the Balinese women in our tour guide’s village. Once completed, the colorful, fragrant offerings were placed in the family’s temple compound.
Isn’t it interesting that only Balinese women, not men, make these offerings?
Why make gracious offerings?
The conscious action of mindfully returning what you’ve received shows that you appreciate the unwrapped gift of a blessing–perhaps a smile, kind word or thoughtful card. Perhaps it’s a wrapped or tangible gift. Your actions acknowledge something Greater than yourself…whatever word you choose to call that greatness.
You don’t own the land. You borrow it.
You don’t own food.You borrow it to sustain and nurture.
You don’t own your body temple.
You borrow it for a time to enjoy, express and be in service.
You don’t own animals. You borrow them for a time for help or companionship.
You don’t own spiritual teachings. You borrow them to learn, grow and share.
How can you make gracious offerings?
Here are five ways you and yours might adopt this new gratitude practice that begins this Thanksgiving season and could continue all year long!
1) Stop and pause before you take something away from its natural spot. Ask if it wants to leave and if you are to have it or not. If the answer is “Yes and OK” make a brief ritual to leave something in its place.
2) Surround yourself with beauty, speak beautiful words, and act beautifully.
3) Celebrate Divine places in your home like your Writer’s or Angel’s Altar; leave a token flower, rock, photo, or found treasure.
4) Research the ways your ancestors and culture made gracious offerings.
5) Brainstorm creative ways you and yours might do this as a couple, family, or community.
They are not intended to be showy events to attract attention and applause.
They are not sacrifices that cost a lot of your time, talent or treasure.
Instead, they are your gratitude notes to Source just to say,