Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Songs of Gratitude

During my daily commute this year, I’ve had the fortune of experiencing the song and sound of some extremely talented  musicians I had not heard before on the street or in the subway.  As I’ve been reflecting on some of the things I’m grateful for this year, those moments of enjoying the offerings of these artists have come to mind.  One day an African drummer joined us on the shuttle train and sang from the depths of his soul unlike any drummer I’d heard before.  He didn’t just have skillful and clever technique, but his soul was singing to us with such gratitude and joy, even those possessed by their electronic gadgets were forced to look up and pay attention.  Another time a gentle spirit of a singer/songwriter offered commuters  a tender melody he had written that once again got the attention of everyone on the train.  Then there was the day an opera singer presented a voice that was so moving people were actually following him off the train, telling him he belonged on a much grander stage than a dumpy subway car.

Having been a performer myself for over 30 years, I appreciate the courage it takes to place oneself in front of strangers and share a gift that brings you immense joy.  Aside from sharing their creative talent, when an artist presents their work to you they are inviting you to connect with your own creative expression.  The more we honor the seeds of creativity within ourselves, the more we are simultaneously honoring that in others and vice versa.  Creativity doesn’t necessarily come about through an established art form, but through the myriad of ways we present ourselves to the world.  Our unique creative expression can shine through when we share our sense of humor or our personal insight, or in how we care for our loved ones and problem solve our daily lives.  Each one of us has a distinct life experience that separates us from the crowd while paradoxically bringing us closer to a sense of oneness with others, sharing in the vulnerabilities of our human experience.  What performers like these street musicians are doing is holding up a mirror that reflects and honors the unique beauty that is carried within all of us on a soul level.  By being fully present with this creative force within ourselves and others, we are cultivating a state of gratitude  for all that we are and not just what we see on the surface of life.

As we enter the shortest and coldest days of the year, mother nature gives us the opportunity to quietly listen to how the divine speaks to us, to find our inspiration from within and to explore how this voice can be expressed in a way that serves others.  This is what it means to celebrate the lightness of life that so many different religions hold ritual for this time of year.