Gratitude: Have You Hugged Your High Priestess Today?
I looked after a little 93 year old lady who was in Auschwitz for 3 years during World War II. She saw her parents killed in front of her and begged the soldier to kill her too. Every night she still has images of the horrors that she experienced and yet she was one of the most positive and grateful people that I know. I asked her how things were going at the senior's residence where she lived and she said: "Darlink! It's like paradise here! Mine beautiful children visit me and everyone loves me!" Her face shone with happiness and I made me feel ashamed that I get sad about little things in my life. This woman rebuilt joy out of truly horrendous ashes.
When we focus on the negative it creates sadness, bitterness and even depression within us. A dark cloud descends as we rehash bitter memories of perceived wrongs, painful betrayals, losses and things we don't have. If we could focus on gratitude our lives would be filled with joy for what we do have and the wonderful things we have received, not the dark side of life. But practicing gratitude takes focus and work. If we are able to start each day with a short contemplation on the things we are grateful for, opening our hearts to receive more, the dark clouds disappear and everything changes.
One of the most important things to be grateful for are our spiritual teachers who have helped us on our path to happiness and balance. I was fortunate enough to have many wonderful spiritual teachers during my life such as Satsvarupa Goswami from ISKCON, Baba Hari das, Marnie MacDonald of the Reclaiming Tradition, Cathy Heiss from the Foundation for Shamanic Studies, Lady Rhiannon from the Coven of High Oaks, American Welsh Tradition and lately Fearn Lickfield, Ivan MacBeth and Salli Crow from The Green Mountain Druid Order. These teachers gave (and are giving!) selflessly of themselves, their time and energy to answer my questions and guide me on my way.
When I became a spiritual teacher myself I didn't do it for money, for honour, or for gratitude but rather as a way to thank the teachers who gave so much to me. I wanted to share what I have with others because it brought me closer to the heart of the God and Goddess. Selfless service strips the heart of ego and creates deep happiness that is not connected to materialism. But within this idea is a dilemma of sorts. I am not doing my work to receive gratitude but rather to repay with gratitude what I have been given; but in order for my own students to progress they need to understand that giving gratitude to me is part of their own spiritual work.
As the High Priestess I represent the Goddess in the Circle and in the world. But I am human. I make mistakes! So it is difficult for me personally to receive gratitude for my work. I must stay focused on my reasons for doing it and not let my ego get all puffed up thinking that I am so wonderful! It is the Goddess who is wonderful and I am her servant.
It sounds a little strange to hear me say to my own students that being grateful to me for what I have given them is part of their spiritual path, and not my own ego. I have had many students who came, took what they wanted, and left without saying thank you and are now using the knowledge I have given then without any acknowledgement. That doesn't matter to me but it is actually doing to harm them because it is stealing, ungrateful and hardens the heart.
So I invite you all to remember the teachers in your life that have given you so many gifts, helping you to be where you are now, and don't forget them in your prayers and in your biographies. You may be a very important spiritual leader now, but giving thanks to your teachers will teach the lesson of gratitude to your own students. Have you hugged your High Priestess today?