When Gratitude is Woven into the Fabric of Life

The Morning Star

I’m not religious.

I mean, not at all religious.

But I enjoy playing the anthropologist at my sister’s catholic church services. And I enjoy attending Barmitzvahs and Passover dinners.

Hearing the stories: that’s the best part.

All religious gathering I’ve attended have stories.

Today I heard a story at the zendo my honey and I frequent. A zendo is defined as a meditation hall, according to Wikipedia, and is called a “spiritual dojo” where folks practice meditation.

It’s still religion.

There is an altar. There is a Buddha. There is incense. There is bowing. And there are stories.

The story today was one of gratitude: completely appropriate following thanksgiving.

The speaker made a linkage between Thanksgiving, thankfulness and gratitude. Her talk was heartfelt and poignant.

Someone attending recommended keeping a gratitude journal. Write daily 3 things for which you are grateful.

And it made me think about American Indian ways-of-knowing and the seamlessness of gratitude and spirituality.

A noted Indian scholar, Gregory Cajete, writes that there is no word in indigenous languages for religion.

The reason is that religion—let’s call it the manifestation of spirituality—is inseparable from daily acts.

So, everything is spiritual.

Don’t confuse spirituality with superstition. Instead, think of things as having meaning: a stone, a tree, your evening stew.

And while it is a good idea to have gratitude—even writing down your thoughts—it seems that traditional Native spirituality was infused with gratitude.

When I attend a meal with a bunch of Indians—and it’s usually nothing formal—the group acknowledges the meal by giving thanks.

Gratitude is woven into the stories and traditions. Gratitude is part of daily existence.

[Blog 15 of Native American Heritage Month. I pledge one blog each day.]


About Cynthia Coleman Emery

Professor and researcher at Portland State University who studies science communication, particularly issues that impact American Indians. Dr. Coleman is an enrolled citizen of the Osage Nation.
This entry was posted in american indian, authenticity, ethics, native american, Native Science, science communication and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to When Gratitude is Woven into the Fabric of Life

  1. johncoyote says:

    I like to study and to learn about all belief and religion. I enjoyed your story. Good to try to understand the world. I was lucky. I did a lot of traveling with the military. I learn all people need and want the same thing. A place to rest and raise family, a good job and food to eat. Thank you for the information.


  2. janice Kreider says:



  3. What a great thought, living life with gratitude woven into every part. It seems so hard to do in society today, with the focus always on more (of anything). But it seems like this would bring about more contentment, and like a wonderful thing to attempt.


  4. Pingback: When Honor Meets Disrespect | Cynthia Coleman Emery's Blog

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