Spirituality rightly understood is aliveness…and we are fully spiritual when we come alive on the highest level of our caring for one another and caring for this planet. ~ Br. David Steindl-Rast, Choices in Action, 1995
Br. David Steindl-Rast is currently back home in Europe — healthy and grateful — and this week, will celebrate his 95th birthday on July 12. We are moved to celebrate the life of “this dancing prayer of a man,” with an invitation to engage in a practice of caring for one another and for this beautiful planet. We hope you will join us.
And how might we begin such a practice? Br. David writes, “Gratefulness has three steps: not missing the opportunity, appreciating the opportunity, and using or enjoying the opportunity. By this method we come fully alive, full of joy, which is what we are all longing for.” Heeding this advice, let us turn toward, appreciate, and enjoy this opportunity to allow a felt sense of gratefulness to overflow into acts of care this week…and beyond.
Caring from Gratefulness — A Practice
- Find yourself in a comfortable position. Begin by taking a few slow, deep breaths. Close your eyes or assume a soft gaze. Feel the places where your body connects with the ground, and feel the ground support you as it connects with these places. Let the cares and concerns of the day go out with the breath. Arrive fully into this moment.
- Now bring to mind and heart someone or something for whom or which you feel grateful. It could be Br. David himself — his playfulness and depth or the generosity and aliveness through which he has articulated and embodied the gifts of grateful living. It could be a person who has been kind to you, or a beloved animal friend who has loved you unconditionally. Or perhaps it is a more universal, awe-inspiring “friend” such as the life-giving companionship of your breath, the breathtaking magnificence of a starry sky, or the experience of aliveness in your body — my goodness, you have a body!
- Allowing this image, memory, or sense to rest in your mind and heart, notice how you feel. What sensations, if any, arise? Perhaps an inner or outer smile appears or a sense of wonder, gratitude, poignancy or sadness. A feeling of warmth, aliveness, joy, or full-heartedness may become apparent. Perhaps you don’t feel anything right now and that too is an experience. Simply allow your attention to rest on whatever is present to you in this moment — whatever that may be. Breathe.
- Now, gently bring to mind the question: How might this great fullness overflow into an act of care?
- Notice what arises and, from this spirit of grateful generosity, commit to following through with a few, intentional acts of care this week.
Following are some possible acts of care or kindness:
- Send someone a note, picture, or poem inspired by your appreciation.
- Do something kind and compassionate for yourself.
- Plant a tree, put out a bird feeder, or tend a garden.
- Express an apology where it might bring healing.
- Offer help to a person, animal, or place that needs caring attention.
- Support an organization whose work is meaningful to you.
- Release a habit, or cultivate a new one, that brings your life in greater alignment with values you hold dear.
- Allow yourself to experience in your body how it feels to act kindly to yourself, to others, and to our planet.
As additional inspiration for your week of practice, we offer the short (5:50) video below. Filmed at the “Choices in Action” Symposium in Colorado in 1995, Br. David leads the audience in a canon called “Come Alive.”
We invite you to share your reflections in the space below.
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Dear Brother David
From my heart, all the best for you!
Happy Happy Birthday dear Br. David. Thank you for caring. Thank you for sharing your beautiful spirit with this “green planet we share”.
I am grateful I found you & this sanctuary, gratefulness.org. My life has been enriched beyond words by you & this community. Thank you. Love & Blessings to You. ❤️🙏✨🌟🌍❤️
Bro David, HB Greetings on the 95th Celebration of your Birth. We met each other at New Camaldoli in 1988 as I was your next cell neighbor. Renewed personal connection CAC in New Mexico, and in San Francisco at conference with David Whyte/Joan Halifax. You have remained in my heart and life as a practicing presence through Gratefulness The Heart of Prayer plus the remembered vitality of your embrace during a liturgy in NC. As we say in the south with much affection, “Bless your Heart!” Tom Beason
Birthday blessings, soul friend. Thank you for your radiant love that touches and unites us in the web of gratefulness. I appreciated the call to simple and profound actions that can flow out from our grateful hearts.
Dearest Brother David, My heart is overflowing with gratitude for your existence and for the technology which makes it possible to hear you on video/audio and books. Your presence & yr teaching have been such a bright light in my life for years, shedding light on long-held questions, comforting & pointing my way through great difficulties, restoring joy. You continue to be source of inspiration and delight to me and to SO many. May you be richly blessed on this birthday and always. With great love, Adelia
I started my morning meditation with this video and Brother David. I feel this is the essence of spiritually ! Happy Birthday blessings!
Thank you 🙏🏼
Thank you so much, dear Brother David, for all your being and deep caring. From my heart, all the best for you. May health, happiness and freedom be with you always. May you be blessed. Happy Birthday!
Happy birthday, Brother David! You mean a lot to me. Thank you so much for all the inspiration, light and love.🌹🕯💛 All the best wishes for you.
Br. David singing come alive with the fortunate audience is a picture of gratitude for me. Such lively spirit emanates from this incredible spiritual person. To be on the same planet is a gift. I am in Austria and wishing Br. David a Birthday full of Joy that he is. Thank you. (Shan) 🙏🏼
Dear Br. David, through ANGL and your teachings, my life has been SO profoundly transformed in such a positive way! Having learned to be grateful and to appreciate, my eyes have been ‘opened’ to how precious the gift of life is. THANK YOU for the gift and blessing you are and for all your sharing and caring! I hope and trust you can read what my heart is saying, that I am unable to put into words. Happy Birthday, dear Br. David ! I love you and everyone at ANGL 🕊💖🌈
Happy Birthday to our beautiful soul, Brother David!! 1000 Gratitudes!!!
Dear Brother David, my best wishes for your birthday! I remember you from Esalen, many years ago. We were in Chungliang Al Huang’s class, and everyone was dancing. You were moving with joy on your face, looking up, and I realized you were dancing with one of the great trees nearby. I loved that so much! May you be well–I know you are grateful always! Jody Larson
Thank you Br David – As a practicing Buddhist of many years I so appreciate your generous and open wisdom. Your teachings, spoken, written an in deed are an inspiration to all. Herzlichen Glueckwunsch, Dave.
Profil foto..Maria Waldrast, Tirol.
To ‘my’ Brother David—I still treasure our time at Hollyhock and aboard our cruise, where your infectious joy won over my curmudgeonly husband. So many ripples of holiness from your one life. How blessed are we! Happy Birthday, dear one. Your sister, Cynthia
Happy Birthday to you, Brother David! Your work has changed my life and the lives of so many. Much GRATITUDE for showing us all how to savor life’s beauty no matter what the circumstances!