I think these gatherings have provided hope to people by helping them to recognize there is a lot more good in the world than bad. They have provided a community of like-minded people and given people tools to expand their awareness. ~ Gratefulness Gathering participant
In January 2020, we celebrated completion of the inaugural year of our Gratefulness Gatherings program. The program reflects Brother David Steindl-Rast’s long-imagined vision of a “network of networks” to support transformation in community. We hold grateful living as an engaged practice, and Gratefulness Gatherings offer a meaningful way to share and deepen this practice.
The local, in-person gatherings serve as safe, sacred space where the core values of gratefulness — including belonging and hope — can flourish. Members of these groups have shared that deep connections form in these spaces, where they are reminded that they’re not alone in their experience. With the committed support of hosts, participants of gatherings can show up as their fullest selves in exploring gratefulness. Everyone is welcome, and some participants have attended gatherings knowing “nothing about” grateful living. Our online directory lists 43 active groups across 23 U.S. states and eight countries.
Gratefulness Gatherings take place once a month, and each month is focused on a particular theme, shared among groups everywhere. Depending on the interests of the group, gatherings include thought-provoking questions, personal reflection, guided meditation, and playful activities, all designed to nurture a deeper understanding of gratefulness. One host shared that gatherings have helped her realize “the potential to connect [gratefulness] with absolutely everything in life,” noting that she’s become more aware of grateful living as a “comprehensive and powerful spiritual practice.”
In the words of group members, here are more ways Gratefulness Gatherings inspire aliveness:
- “I love finishing each session with a collective breath of gratefulness going out into our world. Seeing people respond to each other in such a caring way is awe-inspiring.”
- “I hear [participants] say they are more compassionate, generous, and kind, even to themselves.”
- “The first or second meeting, I don’t remember what the question was, but I remember there was some reluctance to be the first one to answer. I went ahead and talked about a really difficult time (my mother’s illness) and what followed was one of our other members confiding to us that she was dealing with breast cancer and another told us her daughter is developmentally disabled. It was this instant, really deep connection with people presenting their vulnerabilities.”
- “I think these gatherings have provided hope to people by helping them to recognize there is a lot more good in the world than bad. They have provided a community of like-minded people and given people tools to expand their awareness.”
- “This has changed my life.”
We know that we learn and grow in connection with one another, especially when we can look into each other’s eyes, listen to each other’s stories and experiences, and allow ourselves to be impacted heart-to-heart. The ripple effects of gatherings extend far beyond the individuals who attend them as each participant carry insights and practice from into their daily lives. Group members serve as ambassadors of gratefulness, evidenced by the example of host Lisa Valentine, who has taken to local radio to promote grateful living and her gatherings.
The importance of connecting in person to engage with the work of personal and societal transformation is as critical as ever. We have learned so much from the first year, and we are continually in the process of refining and expanding the Gratefulness Gatherings program to serve the moment and the future, helping to support experiences that are accessible, enriching, and transformative for all who gather.
We welcome prospective hosts to apply at any time and encourage anyone interested in gatherings to check our directory for a group that might be in your area. Facilitating gatherings is a profound opportunity to create space with others who care about living gratefully, and all of our hosts affirm that the experience is enriching for them, significantly deepening their own practice.
If you’d like to join an existing group, you can learn more and search for one in your area with our online directory. If you don’t see a group in your area, perhaps you will consider becoming a host. We hope you will join us in exploring gratefulness through meaningful connection.
To learn more about gatherings, visit: Gratefulness Gatherings.
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