“For what we are about to eat may the Lord make us truly grateful”.
That was our pre-meal prayer when I was at school. I remember it not so much because of the gratitude I felt, but because we said it a lot and most of us raced through the little prayer, eager to eat.
In later years it struck me how remote that little sentence seemed. It didn’t thank the plants and animal life for their sacrifice. It didn’t thank the food producers, the farmers, or the school cooks who worked tirelessly. This is probably a good thing. As teenagers, we were ravenous at meal times and having to give more thanks and delay eating could have caused a riot.
It was a gesture at gratitude and I’m sure some students maybe ignored their rumbling tummies long enough to feel thankful.
But it didn’t really honour all the elements and hard work that went into providing the meals.
So how do we honour what we have? And how does doing so help us to achieve inner peace?
Don’t think for a moment I am downplaying the importance of gratitude. Being thankful is immensely powerful. In fact, practicing gratitude has dragged me out of despair.
However, truly honouring what we have requires a special kind of mindfulness. That in itself can help us achieve inner peace.
Sometimes gratitude for specific things can cause feelings of conflict. For instance, we may be grateful for the plastic bottle that is holding our drinkable water when we are somewhere that tap water is inconsumable. We are unlikely to be grateful for the plastic producer, knowing that our planet is now in serious threat of literally drowning in this man-made disaster.
So how do we honour it?
HONOURING WHAT WE HAVE – SIFTING THROUGH THE CONFUSION
We live in confusing times. We are told minimalism is a good thing and we should cull our crap.
We live in a material world where it’s all too easy to buy more crap.
Then we’re told we are producing so much garbage that the planet is becoming one huge landfill.
So where do we put all our crap when we decide to cull?
Quite a crappy conundrum, isn’t it?
HONOURING WHAT WE HAVE – THE CULL
Even those who are not interested in the minimalism trend have to cull from time to time. The trick is to do it with careful consideration.
I’ve known some who will cull, only to replace what they’ve thrown out for a newer version. This honours nothing but definitely adds to the landfill issue. Read how Lessons from a Pot Can Help Save the World.
Things break. Especially these days when built in obsolescence is factored in. And some of these things need to be replaced.
But what to do with the broken thing? How do we honour what we have?
The obvious step of course is to use the recycling service whenever possible. While that’s the honourable thing to do, it doesn’t really honour what we have.
HONOURING WHAT WE HAVE – THE TRANSFORMATION
The truly creative way to deal with that broken thing – and to honour it – is to transform it.
This takes some thought, which leads to mindfulness.
Mindfulness is defined as a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, to be fully aware of what we are doing. Focusing on a task where the outcome is unsure is a form of mindfulness.
For example, when we are engaged in a project where the end objective is clear, we are focused on achieving that objective.
When we are engaged in a project that has an open ended objective, (we are not sure what we are creating) we are being fully present in the moment (not the end objective) and therefore we are practising mindfulness.
Transforming what we have and prolonging its life is also a way of honouring what we have.
What better way to honour something than to turn trash into treasure?
HONOURING WHAT WE HAVE – THE PLASTIC BOTTLE
Take that plastic bottle of water for instance.
Once the water is gone, we have several choices. We can reuse it as a water bottle (or for other storage) if we still have need of it.
We can recycle it – an honourable thing to do.
Or we can upcycle it and transform it into something else. We honour it by giving it a new life and purpose.
We honour what we have by using our own effort and imagination to contribute to its longer life.
When we start to think about transforming things that have served their purpose, we look at everything differently. We see possibilities everywhere.
Old jewellery and broken beads becomes a beautiful picture.
A scrap of ducting and an old box transforms into a fun robot for kids.
An egg carton becomes a fire truck.
A sock becomes Santa.
A tin can turns into a movie character.
Wine corks transform to a boat.
That plastic bottle makes a cute piggy bank. And many other cool things.
It makes things so much more exciting than just putting out the trash.
HONOURING WHAT WE HAVE AND INNER PEACE
How does this help us achieve inner peace?
When we are in a state of mindfulness it absorbs us, freeing us from a restless mind that is stressed by other thoughts, emotions and events – granting us inner peace.
When we are using creative recycling to transform things we enjoy a sense of achievement which also reduces stress and creates inner peace.
It also gives us a sense of contributing to something important – taking steps towards reducing waste and helping our planet.
Honouring what we have provides a sense of connection to everything, reinforcing our interconnectedness and reducing feelings of isolation.
How do you honour what you have?
Happy transformations and have a gleeful week, Tamuria.