all photos and writings by June Friesen
Ziplining has never been a dream, a hope, or an ambition of mine. However, as I meet people, especially younger people it seems that it is something that they dream of doing and when they actually accomplish it some have told me it gives them a feeling of exhilaration. Now as I was observing and taking some photos, I was also aware that this zipline (which was at an outdoor zoo) went over the outdoor lion and tiger exhibits. With this background, I thought to myself what gratitude each person must have had to arrive safely at their destination at the opposite end. I am sure you are wondering to yourself how in fact I came up with the phrase, ‘A Zipline of Gratitude.’
Colossians 3:14-16 (The Passion Translation)
14 For love is supreme and must flow through each of these virtues. Love becomes the mark of true maturity. 15 Let your heart be always guided by the peace of the Anointed One, who called you to peace as part of his one body. And always be thankful.
There are a number of verses as well as stories that contain an aspect or element of gratitude. Jesus was known to highlight those who were thankful for the things that He did in their lives such as one out of ten lepers that returned to give Him thanks for healing him. Some verses from 2nd Timothy 3 seem to fit with what my thoughts are here on gratitude.
2 Timothy 3:1-5 (J.B. Phillips)
But you must realize that in the last days the times will be full of danger. Men will become utterly self-centered, greedy for money, full of big words. They will be proud and contemptuous, without any regard for what their parents taught them. They will be utterly lacking in gratitude, purity and normal human affections. They will be men of unscrupulous speech and have no control of themselves. They will be passionate and unprincipled, treacherous, self-willed and conceited, loving all the time what gives them pleasure instead of loving God. They will maintain a facade of “religion”, but their conduct will deny its validity. You must keep clear of people like this.
Yes, I chose this passage from 2nd Timothy because all of the things mentioned here keep us from an attitude of gratitude. I also have found that when I am surrounded by people with these kinds of attitudes I can easily be drawn into the negativity of the world and life that is very prevalent in our society at large. Paul warns Timothy as well as you and I to be careful of this negativity because it lacks gratitude, purity, and love. Yet one wonders how can I ever rise above all the negativity? How can I, just me all alone, make any difference or impact on the general all-around negativity? And then I thought it is almost as difficult for some of us to move into a lifestyle of gratefulness/gratitude as it is for us to step off of a platform suspended by a body harness to fly through the air suspended on a wire – a wire suspended over wild animal enclosures no less.
In our world today there are so many things that clamor for our attention and often they are filled with negative energies that easily overtake us. When negative energy is allowed room in our lives, either mind or spirit, it begins to drain our physical energy and often our emotional energy as well. Over 20 years ago I picked up a book I happened to see advertised on television. I had no idea how this book would revolutionize my life and at first, I was rather skeptical. However, one of the disciplines was gratitude – adopting a daily discipline of being grateful, which I decided to try. Yes, kind of like standing in the little shelter high up in the air and having someone tell me, “Just let me fasten this harness on you, and then let go – you will have the ride of your life right over the outdoor animal enclosures – and I promise you all will be safe and well.” It took a bit of time to get this habit into a good practice but soon I was beginning to see all of the things that were blessings in my life. I also discovered something else – in the midst of a day if I became discouraged, I would think of some blessing I could see or feel right then – and my negative attitude was curtailed.
As I have thought about the title of this writing the last couple of months, I see how many may find it hard to even think that it is possible to do a gratitude journal. We can come up with numerous ideas: what if I forget, what if I have a really horrible, no-good day, what if I am too tired, what if I am sick, what if I am not at home and I am sure there are other excuses too. First of all, if you put it on your bed, you will see it every night and you pick it up and write in it before you go to bed. Second, when you travel, take it with you and have it be on top of your suitcase so every night when you open your suitcase you have to pick it up and, of course, write in it. Third, sometimes one may be ill, even very ill, may even be hospitalized – even then if you have a bed, warmth, drink, someone to care for you or pain killer or a treatment plan – yes, there are things to be thankful for then too.
As I stood and watched people zipline over the enclosures that contained dangerous animals, I thought of how there are people in our world that we too need to be aware of. They could be various kinds but especially those who have the potential to cause us harm whether physical, mental, emotional and/or spiritual. They are the people that we need to learn the possibility of moving over or past while maintaining an attitude of gratitude. Now, this attitude should not be one of exclusion all together but definitely one of caution. Often after the people zipline over the animals they will then walk past the pens and observe the animals in all their wonder and beauty – and be grateful for that beauty as well as their safety. Some of the people are actually the ones who work at the facility and enter the areas where these animals may be, however they use caution and techniques to keep themselves from harm and/or injury.
As I have worked with people, discipling them over the past twenty years, I encourage each person to begin a gratitude journal. I often pick up pretty journals at the dollar store when I see them so that I have some handy. Why? One of the excuses we have is I do not have a journal, or I don’t know where to get a journal. And as I invite people to join me on the ‘zipline of gratitude’ I soon find they are eager to share how it also has changed their thought patterns from negative to positive in many situations.
So, as you are wondering how to adapt to the heat of the summer or the cold of the winter, depending on which hemisphere you live in, I invite you to delve into a new adventure – take a ride on the ‘Zipline of Graitude’ – I believe you will say in the end – this sure is an enjoyable ride. Let’s do it again. And again……
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