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Building Stronger Communities This Thanksgiving

© Ella Olsson

As we move into the period of another ending year, major holidays loom. One is Thanksgiving, a time when we gather with family and friends to share and give thanks for the abundance in our lives.  While the origin of the holiday may belie the harsher realities present in the national experience from even before our nation’s formal founding, it also reflects some of our deepest aspirations for summoning up the “better angels of our nature.”

Underlying that celebration is the idea of gratitude. As I think about Thanksgiving, I am struck by the need and challenge of maintaining gratitude in the face of the noise and discord so present now in our culture and politics.

It seems to me that we can benefit from taking time to reflect and communicate with those around us, seeking to listen with empathy and humility to the needs and experiences of others as a way to build stronger, more resilient, and healthy communities.

Some quotes sum up this year’s experiences for me and I think they are worth noting this week.

“Listen with curiosity. Speak with honesty. Act with integrity. The greatest problem with communication is we don’t listen to understand. We listen to reply. When we listen with curiosity, we don’t listen with the intent to reply. We listen for what’s behind the words.”
― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, and confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, and a stranger into a friend.” Melody Beattie

“At times our light goes out and is rekindled by the spark of another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude about those who have lighted the flame within us.”- Albert Schweitzer

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

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