Multi-Faith and Belief Chaplaincy, For All Faiths and None

Gratitude and the Power of Small

This week's blog has been written by Associate Chaplain, Ali Newell.

The eco-spirituality course running in the Chaplaincy at present uses the work of Joanna Macy, author of ‘Coming Back to Life’ to explore a fold-fold path of spirituality. It begins with ‘gratitude’, moves to ‘honouring our pain’, from this place to ‘seeing with new eyes’ and finally moves into ‘going forth’ or ‘action for change.’ Joanna Macy is particularly looking at how we can best work for climate justice; first sensing the gift and wonder of this world we live in, then acknowledging and honouring the pain of what we have done to threaten life on our planet, and from that place seeing in a new way and coming together to act for change.

Drawing of dandelions with roots on a white background with the text: Going forth. Seeing with new eyes. Honouring our pain. Gratitude.

These past weeks in our course we have stayed with the first path ‘gratitude’ and noticing what makes a difference to us. Bridget Holton, an alumnus of Edinburgh University, is co-facilitator with me on the eco-spirituality course. She works as the Wellbeing Officer for the Forestry Commission, Scotland and made a wonderful video at her work using wee lego pieces to emphasise the power of the small. The Power of Small - YouTube

We can ask the question after watching this. Did anything make me feel humble today - small yet significant in the sense of being interconnected?


Another very different video but on the same theme of gratitude is called ‘Dire Merci’ and is from the Ballet de L’Opera National de Paris.

This was made this in lockdown in spring last year to say thank you for the gift of the French healthcare workers during COVID19. Despite the dancers being limited by lack of space, they express so beautifully what it means to still offer who they are to the world - artists who express meaning and feeling in movement.


Having watched this video, we can ask:

How do I find ways to keep true to myself in these days of limitation, and find small, authentic ways to be appreciative of each other in the midst of our struggle?