Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Being Thankful

Economic conditions have resulted in retailers rushing headlong into the holiday season. Everyone seems to be getting in on the act. Stores are sporting their holiday decorations and playing Christmas songs to get shoppers in the spirit. The streets of downtown Punta Gorda are decked out with snowflakes and garland. Even the Salvation Army is joining in, with representatives ringing bells and manning the familiar red kettles seeking donations. Happily, the Yoga Sanctuary and Worden Farm gave me the opportunity to take a step back and reflect on the things in my life to be thankful for at their fourth annual Being Thankful event to benefit the Good Samaritans of Charlotte County.

Stephanie and I arrived at Worden Farm on Sunday afternoon not knowing exactly what to expect. We were greeted by Bonnie and Anna, made our contribution for the Good Samaritans and rolled out our yoga mats in the field. There was a wide assortment of people there, some of whom I recognized from classes at the Yoga Sanctuary but many of whom--like the mother with an infant in her lap--were just there for the event. Dianne Munson, Executive Director of the Good Samaritans, told us a bit about the mission of the Good Samaritans, which is to provide emergency assistance for Charlotte County residents through financial aid and contributions from their food pantry. With the plight of those less fortunate in our minds, Bonnie asked us to set an intention for our practice, thinking about the things in our lives that we are grateful for, and led us through an hour of gentle yoga.

It was an incredible and truly special experience to practice yoga in a field. Sun salutations and the tree pose took on a whole new meaning as the breeze flowed over our bodies and the sun shone down on us. Bonnie's instructions throughout the practice incorporated our beautiful setting as she asked us to "feel the warmth of gratitude in our hearts" and to "shift our gaze up to the ceiling--oops--the sky!" At one point I was startled to see that a grasshopper had jumped onto my mat. As I said, it was a practice unlike any other I've experienced!

After our yoga, Alissa gave us some background on Worden Farm before leading us to a freshly tilled area where we planted ace red beet seeds that, when harvested, will be donated to the Good Samaritans. Stephanie ended up planting next to Dianne Munson, who told her a bit more about the Good Samaritans program and how no food donations go to waste.
Once vegetables get too soft to give to clients, they are fed to animals. (I think I heard her say they're fed to hogs, but I was eavesdropping so I'm not quite sure where these hogs live!) Again, it was a very special experience.

I left the Farm feeling calm, rejuvenated and thankful for the many good things in my life. Hopefully I will be able to retain these feelings as we move past Thanksgiving into the chaos of the Christmas season. Happy holidays!

For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.
--Ralph Waldo Emerson

Gratitude is not only the greatest of all virtues, but the parent of all others.

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