“‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free. ‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be; and when we find ourselves in the place just right, ’twill be in the valley of love and delight. (Chorus:) When true simplicity is gain’d, to bow and to bend we shan’t be asham’d, to turn, turn will be our delight; till by turning, turning we come ’round right.”
You’re humming it now, aren’t you? Penned by Elder Joseph Brackett (1848) while he lived in the Shaker community of Alfred, Maine, these original lyrics were a one-verse song with chorus. Multiple versions, from Sydney Carter’s hymn entitled “Lord of the Dance” in 1963 (also used in Michael Flatley’s dance musical of the same name) to Aaron Copeland’s adaption of the melody in the music for the ballet Appalachian Spring, have popularized the tune and lyrics through generations. Many songwriters, recording artists, instrumentalists, and poets share versions and interpretations. In fact, there are two additional non-Shaker verses in existence:
‘Tis the gift to be loved and that love to return, ’tis the gift to be taught and a richer gift to learn; and when we expect of others what we try to live each day, then we’ll all live together and we’ll all learn to say… ‘Tis the gift to have friends and a true friend to be; ’tis the gift to think of others not to only think of me. And when we hear what others really think and feel, then we’ll all live together with a love that’s real. ‘Tis the gift to be loving, ’tis the best gift of all. Like a quiet rain it blesses where it falls; and with it we will truly come to believe, ’tis better to give than it is to receive.”
To me, this song powerfully speaks to the gift of gratefulness…helping to grow our soul, become less trivial and more loving, kind, fearless, peaceful, gracious, and hopeful. Living with an open, grateful heart creates a spirit of JOYfilled expectation in everyday life because gratefulness is a stunningly simple gift!
Simple…not easy! I didn’t say it was easy! What I do know from brain research is how gratefulness creates positive feelings and emotions; our gratitude gives birth to the positive all around and within us. Negativity cannot occur in the brain at the same time as gratitude.; it melts away without effort. AND, our brains naturally work to track success, to notice what is right, when it focuses on gratefulness. Good news, my friends!
So here’s your challenge on Day #36: How will you continue to commit, practice, and cultivate your own gratefulness during the remaining days of 2018?
Simple…not easy! My sincere hope in sharing my personal reflections and journey during this mini-series is for all of us to continue seeking real, meaningful inspiration in the practice of living from a simple, grateful heart. One of the most wonderful discoveries for me in sharing is how full and blessed I feel from the gift of gratefulness. Just know you’re not alone; I’m with you…and by the way, I’m still wearing the smile you gave me!