Art – in its most expansive definition – contains all forms of creative expression. And creativity can be seen as one of the most potent forces in the world and in our lives. It is creativity which points us to new paths, new ways of seeing and solving, and which offers us inspiration from both the inside and the outside. Creative expression is rooted in the capacities for observation, discovery, imagination, and courage. It wakes us up, challenges us, and enriches all of life. Those who dive deeply into a commitment to creative expression make their whole lives a canvas or a blank page onto which their hearts are poured…and our world is made better because of it.
Grateful living contains and advances creativity at its core. It asks us to drop into stillness and to see what we see with new eyes. It asks us to identify opportunities where, at first glance, none exist. It asks us to form our lives from the materials we have been given, as sculptors fashion clay into exquisite form. As Miles Davis said, “I’m always thinking about creating. My future starts when I wake up every morning…Every day I find something creative to do with my life.” When we commit to grateful living, we commit to waking up to our own creative power and infinite possibility.
Sometimes the mist overhangs my path, And blackening clouds about me cling; But, oh, I…
And still, after all this time, The sun never says to the earth, “You owe…
(December 2013) Lifestyle artist John ‘Halcyon’ Styn delivers an inspirational talk about how a special relationship with his ‘Grandpa Caleb’ inspired his life work. Through sharing experiences with his grandpa, at Burning man and with starting his own non-profit called ‘1st Saturdays’ he presents a challenge for us to hug more, share more and love more.
(2010) A soulful, grateful song by Natalie Merchant (studio version from the album “Ophelia” 1998) –
I want to thank you
For so many gifts
You gave with love and tenderness…
(2007) A hip-hop/jazz fusion Grateful song by Pete Philly & Perquisite
(July 2015) In Columbia SC, James Taylor was joined onstage by Charleston choir Lowcountry Voices. Together, they sang “Shed a Little Light” in memory of the victims of the Charleston shooting and their families. The entire audience stood in support.
(Brain Pickings) In a culture that makes it easier to be a critic than a celebrator, where it takes growing commitment to do the opposite, how heartening to be reminded of the ennobling gift of gratitude, of the elevating capacity of being one another’s champion…
Empty Hands Music’s mission is to spread seeds of goodness in the world through selfless service, music, and love. All of Empty Hands Music’s offerings are gifts to the world.
For more than a year, artist Lori Portka painted her gratitude through individual pieces of art for 100 people who have made a difference in her life. This beautiful film captures Lori’s motivation and some of the reactions from the recipients of her gratitude at an emotional exhibition of the 100 paintings.
“Stand By Me” is a song that sparked a movement, and the flame is growing higher and higher all over the world. There are moments when music transcends the darkness and shows us the light. This is one of those moments. Playing For Change is a multimedia movement created to inspire, connect, and bring peace to the world through music.
(2012) The “Landfill Harmonic” (La armonía del vertedero – Orquesta de Instrumentos Reciclados de Cateura)
An extraordinary and inspiring film about an orchestra for kids with instruments made from trash.
We are grateful to Nathan Friend, a front-end engineer and cellist based out of Des Moines, IA, who has created a digital Spirograph to engage and inspire.
(2008) This delightful dance repeated around the globe will bring a smile to your lips and warm your heart.
(New York Times, 2015) A mother leaves poetry notes for her struggling daughter…“You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.”
We have the grand honor of being conduits for divine imagination. Thus not only do we embrace all that’s freely given to us – the very definition of gratefulness – we also magnanimously participate in developing and fulfilling this gift. To that end we offer this list of books to help us connect with and cultivate our creative gifts.
(2010) Brother David celebrates Song born in Silence, with reference to St. Francis and the poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke.
(2009) Spiritual Practices for Everyday Living was a retreat led by Br. David Steindl-Rast at Roy’s Retreat in South Australia
An exploration of awe — that inexplicable fusion of fear and fascination — through poetry and a painting.
We are “mindful makers,” and within each one of us that realm of the artistic mediates between daily chores and religious aspirations.
Who is your favorite poet? How many neighbors do you know by name? And how can questions like these help make your intuitive knowledge of the sacredness of nature an effective force in the world?
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