Earlier this week, as I was contemplating the idea of thankfulness for the upcoming holiday, I found myself struggling to put my thoughts on paper, so to speak, and it upset me a great deal. I am immensely grateful for my life and should therefore have little to no difficulty articulating my appreciation. And yet the words would not come. I know that I’m not alone in this place; we always seem to want to find the most eloquent words to express thanks. Because I believe that life’s gifts come from a higher source, I decided to seek some divine intervention and had a definite aha moment when I read the following quote by a French priest named Pierre Teilhard de Chardin: “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” Hmmmm, right? Now if I said that I spent a lot of time perusing things this man has written, I would be telling you one big fat lie, so I’ll admit that I’m new to his work. What I loved about this particular concept was that I found it to be a bit mind bending, and since we are constantly barraged with recommendations to follow a spiritual path, his words also felt somewhat new and refreshing. But then again, are they really?
If we see ourselves as human beings who are traveling on a spiritual path, it would stand to reason that we are constantly seeking ways to get to the end of our journey, and that is certainly a fair and true statement for many of us. Instagram and Facebook are flooded with meditation apps, pithy sayings about authenticity, and invitations to participate in mindfulness. These are topics I’ve written about a number of times right here on this blog. Because we’re so open to being more spiritual, and we understand its importance, we’re willing to try some of the suggestions we read about in the hopes that we’ll find ourselves on that more elevated plane. Sometimes it happens, and sometimes it doesn’t. Others of us have no need for anything new because we’ve already found our spirituality in organized religion where we feel comforted by ceremony and prayer, while we are enlightened by the words of sacred texts, or we’ve immersed ourselves in practices like yoga where our minds have found release, while our bodies have grown strong. We may say that we only have the need to intensify what we’re already doing, but if we’re honest with ourselves we will admit that we are still seeking. All of this yearning to be something more than who we currently are can make us feel as though we’re starting from a place where we are already less than what we should be. Our efforts can sometimes seems futile, and we often fear that we’re coming up short, which inevitably leads us to question how can we ever attain divinity when we are so fundamentally human.
If we consider the alternative idea that we are already spiritual beings who have popped into this world for a bit of a human experience, does that feel any better? It just might. If the grace of a higher power exists within each of us from the moment we are born, we no longer have the need to search for a means of elevating ourselves to a loftier spiritual level. The ability to do exactly that is already ours; we need only to find a way to reconnect with it. What does Glinda the Good Witch tell Dorothy at the end of The Wizard of Oz? “You had the power all along, my dear.” Perhaps we do too. Tapping into this power may very well still involve organized religion or spiritual practice, but the difference becomes that we do not start out feeling as though we are less and striving for more. We recognize that we already carry within us all the “more” we could ever want. When this recognition occurs, it grants us the ability to honor that same spiritual goodness and divine light in every person we meet. It becomes nearly impossible to ever see anyone as less. This revelation brings us back full circle to the difficulty we sometimes have in wrapping words around the idea of being thankful. Once again, we find ourselves falling short, but only until we realize that our moments of deepest gratitude push aside an overabundance of words because they are are finite and limiting, choosing instead to be written by our souls in a language that defies confinement and connects us to that universal place of spirituality. In the end, there are only three words that are ever needed: I am grateful.
For today’s cocktail, I am reprising a drink that I created back in 2018 for a poem called “Praying” written by Mary Oliver, in which she talks about finding “a doorway into thanks.” I built that cocktail around parsley because it is the herb that symbolizes gratitude, but began with a base of vodka that had been infused for several days with cucumber. I added a Douglas fir eau-de-vie from Clear Creek, a craft distillery in Oregon, a spirit that is remarkably strong, and so just a small amount of it was enough to establish its presence in the drink. That allowed me to use a full 3/4 ounce of parsley simple syrup. I added lime juice to balance the sweetness and topped the drink with some chili oil drops just to serve as a reminder of the idea that even the smallest amount of something as powerful as gratitude can be enough to change our outlook on spirituality and the way in which it connects us as human beings. Cheers everyone. Happy Friday! I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I truly am grateful for all of you.
2 oz cucumber infused vodka
.25 oz Clear Creek Distillery Douglas Fir Eau-de-Vie
.75 oz parsley simple syrup
.75 oz fresh lime juice
Long shake over ice, then double strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a few drops of chili oil and a sprig of parsley.