Gratitude – A Salve to Heal Our Wounds by Judith Shaw

judith shaw photoTomorrow being Thanksgiving in the United States offers an opportunity to reflect on gratitude. With so much anger bubbling up on all fronts is it possible that gratitude could be the salve to heal our wounds?

Reflections On Light And Water, gouache on paper by Judith Shaw

It is hard to feel grateful while the ongoing destruction of our Earth’s systems creates more and more climate catastrophes. Yet these catastrophes remind us not to take Earth’s bounty for granted. After my sister lost power and water for almost a week from Hurricane Irma, I remembered what I usually forget and said a small prayer of thanks every time I turned on the water. The miracle of running water is something we all take for granted. I am grateful for the modern convenience of running water and the ease it provides to our lives. I am even more grateful for the waters of Earth, which arrive in many ways and provide life and well-being to all.

The presidency of Donald Trump has brought out the worst in us as a nation. Bigotry, misogyny and an adulation of the 1% have a voice like never before. Where can one find reasons for gratitude in that?

young woman standing for climate justiceI am grateful that the grassroots is energized and voter turn out in the recent special elections has been very high. I am grateful that the extremes to which his hate rhetoric has pushed us is now birthing a revolution of women speaking out against sexual abuse and harassment. I am grateful for the mayors, governors, and political activists of the nation who are confirming their commitment to the Paris Accord and the reduction of greenhouse gases. Numerous groups – Indigenous Environmental Network, Sunrise, Grassroots Global Justice Alliance,, Sustain, U.S. Youth for Justice and Sustainability, Climate Generation, U.S. Human Rights Network, ICLEA-Local Governments for Sustainability, Nextgen America, and Climate Justice Alliance    all joined hands to become the U.S. People’s Delegation at the recent COP23 in Bonn, Germany. You can view a video of these amazing folks on 350’s facebook page.

And of course I am grateful for my family and friends. My sisters, my son, my daughter-in-law have always been loving and supportive. Our relationships continue to grow and thrive. I am grateful for my friends, local and elsewhere, of many years  Many of my friends are scattered across the world yet the miracle of the internet makes keeping in touch easy. 

Yet can feeling gratitude really help heal our world? I believe it can. When we experience a feeling of gratitude we become conscious of our relationship to someone or something. Gratitude for the water, for the bounty from Earth makes me conscious of my relationship to Earth, to our interconnectedness. This feeling of connection leads to a profound sense of the need to protect and nourish Earth.

Garden of Life, oil on canvas, 17″ x 28″ by Judith Shaw

Feeling thankful connects us to our heart, breaking down the walls of separation that keep us disconnected and isolated. Gratitude for the hope and activism which emerges in a toxic political climate helps reconnect us with those from whom we feel so estranged. It opens up dialogue and the ability to listen with empathy.

It is an ancient concept that the old must die to make way for the new. We experience that with every turn of the season and every life transformation.  Our ancestors have left stories which express that truth – from the Celtic Goddess, The Cailleach, to the Greek Goddess, Persephone, to the Sumerian Inanna, all goddesses of transformation personifying death and the transformative power of darkness.

The Cailleach, Celtic Goddess, painting by Judith ShawPersephone, painting by Judith ShawInanna's Descent, painting by Judith Shaw

The healing power of gratitude allows us to see an opportunity for growth in the midst of difficult times. It is possible that the difficulties our world faces now are truly a result of the dying of the 5000 year old patriarchal system. That painful death allows for a new beginning, a new consciousness which understands and tolerates differences and limits while striving for a world built around the values of love, peace, equality, and balance –  the Way of the Goddess.

Judith Shaw, a graduate of the San Francisco Art Institute, has been interested in myth, culture and mystical studies all her life. Not long after graduating from SFAI, while living in Greece, Judith began exploring the Goddess in her artwork. She continues to be inspired by the Goddess in all of Her manifestations. Originally from New Orleans, Judith now makes her home in New Mexico where she paints and writes as much as time allows and sells real estate part-time.

Judith’s deck of Celtic Goddess Oracle Cards is available now.  Celtic-Goddess-Oracle-cards-by-judith-shawYou can order your deck on Judith’s website. Experience the wisdom of the Celtic Goddesses!


Author: Judith Shaw

Judith Shaw, a graduate of the San Francisco Art Institute, has been interested in myth, culture and mystical studies all her life. Not long after graduating from SFAI, while living in Greece, Judith began exploring the Goddess in her art. She continues to be inspired by the Goddess in all of her manifestations, which of course includes the flora and fauna of our beautiful Earth. Judith has exhibited her paintings in New York, San Francisco, Mytilene Greece, Athens Greece, New Orleans, Santa Fe NM, Taos NM, Albuquerque NM, Houston TX and Providence RI. She has published two oracle decks - Celtic Goddess Oracle and Animal Wisdom Oracle and is hard at work on an illustrated fairytale - Elena and the Reindeer Goddess.

23 thoughts on “Gratitude – A Salve to Heal Our Wounds by Judith Shaw”

  1. Just beautiful! In the midst of all that is happening around us and within us, it is important to take a deep breath and to give thanks for the beauty of the world and all the love that has been given to us, and as you say, to be grateful for all those who are working to save and improve the world! Blessed be! And thanks o you for these much needed words on this day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Carol, you know how they say people teach what they need to learn? Yesterday I was reminded of that as I was driving in crazy, rude traffic with lots of stressful thoughts about deadlines and feelings of anger over some current political fracas when I remembered my post, took a deep breath (as you say) and refocused my energy on finding things in the moment to be thankful for. It really did help change my own internal dialogue.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m especially thankful for you, Judith, and for your words and art. I’m also thankful for all the contributors at FAR, and their nudges and pushes and reminders of sanity in insane times. May peace of spirit, courage, strength, and gratitude for small things and large continue to grow in all our hearts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And I am thankful for you Onoosh and all your wonderful collages, your generous heart, and youe cute kitties. Ditto to being thankful for all the contributors and readers here at FAR – our oasis in the desert of insanity.


  3. “The healing power of gratitude allows us to see an opportunity for growth in the midst of difficult times.”

    Your imagery here, thanks Judith, so very wonderful and uplifting. Thank you. And oddly what came to mind was that scene in the Mary Tyler Moore show, when she tosses her hat and catches it — (linked my name here to that hat toss, hope you like it).


    1. Sarah, I don’t remember that scene. Was she being thankful when she tossed her hat – or did that scene just come to mind for some other type of connection? She always had such a huge and loving smile, didn’t she.


      1. Thanks Judith, it seems to me that the Mary Tyler Moore scene represents that “healing power of gratitude” — she’s celebrating life itself with that warm smile and the toss of the hat, so delightful. According to Wikipedia she lived to be 80 and died early this year. So maybe it’s a good time to remember her great smile and many creative gifts.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Beautiful post. I especially like that you say a prayer of thanks whenever you turn on the water. I write notes that say “love and gratitude” on all my water bottles mindful of the fascinating research conducted by Dr. Masaru Emoto:

    Here’s a blurb from his website: In his various books, the first of which was published in 1999, Dr. Emoto, a doctor of Alternative Medicine, introduced the novel idea that water not only reflects the physical word around it (as when we use a placid lake or pond as a mirror), but it also reflects the consciousness of the being surrounding it.

    The experiment he used to discover this included bottles filled with water, that were set under either a positive or a negative influence. For example, some bottles of water were wrapped with written notes, with the writing facing inside the bottle that said, “thank you.” This was done in various languages. No matter what language was used, the water in these bottles, when frozen, created complete crystals that were lovely to behold.

    Water over which a priest prayed, with love and gratitude, created the same type of crystals. Conversely, unpleasant, imcomplete, and malformed crystals were created in water exposed to people saying or writing, “You fool,” or other negative expressions.

    By exposing water to a particular word or piece of music, freezing it, and photographing the ice crystals formed, Dr. Emoto has shown that from beautiful words and music, come beautiful crystals, and from mean-spirited, negative words, come malformed and misshapen crystals. What is the significance? It becomes clear when we remember that the adult human body is approximately 70% water and infant bodies are about 90% water. We can be hurt emotionally and, as the water can be changed, for the worse physically by negativity. However, we are always closer to beauty when surrounded by positive thoughts, words, intentions and ultimately those vibrations.

    Dr. Emoto’s theories can be explored further by reading his books, The Hidden Messages in Water, The True Power of Water, The Secret Life of Water, Love Thyself, and now in his children’s books as well. His work is also presented in the movie What the Bleep Do We know?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nick,
      I am familiar with Dr. Emoto’s work but his discoveries had slipped my mind. Thanks for the reminder.

      I recall a time around 15 years ago when my son was facing some difficulties and we worked together with the healing power of water to help resolve the issue. It really did help. I did not realize that Emoto now has written children’s books – will have to check them out.

      And yes… water, water, water,- always grateful for water.


  5. Thank you for this graceful reminder to be grateful. I am grateful for your beautiful work, Judith, and for you!


  6. Yes, indeed, say thank-you to things when they work. I do it all the time. My DVD player is old, and I tell it thank you every night when it turns on. I believe we should likewise say thank you to waiters and bus drivers and cashiers and all the 99% who are living their lives in the face of all the bigotry, etc., the Troll-in-Chief has brought into our civilization. Which, thanks to him and his kind, is becoming less civilized.

    Judith, thanks for writing this post and reminding us that there’s still much to be grateful for! Like your art.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Barbara – great reminder to be thankful for all those folks who serve us everyday. It can be so easy to get angry with long lines, long waits, etc and then take it out on the person who is finally there to serve. Better to be thankful, as you say.


      1. I regularly have brief, friendly conversations with servers in restaurants. If I’m standing in a long line, I talk to the people in front of me or behind me. Being friendly seems to be one way to be grateful. ;-)


  7. One of the healing practices for PTSD is to remember something positive and express thanks for them.Thank you for the reminder, Judith.
    My dog must have sensed my vibes! He came over for some hugs and pats! Time out in thanksgiving for canine companions!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Barbara,
      That’s so funny that you mention dogs as yesterday when I was searching for something to be grateful for while driving in crazy traffic and other concerns on my mind the first thing I saw was a woman sitting calming at a bus stop with her little black dog. I found myself feeling gratitude for her presence, her peaceful looking energy and her love for her little dog.


  8. “When we experience a feeling of gratitude we become conscious of our relationship to someone or something. Gratitude for the water, for the bounty from Earth makes me conscious of my relationship to Earth, to our interconnectedness.”

    Yes indeed… I do not celebrate thanksgiving because I do a ritual of thanksgiving at the fall equinox… but I also try to be present for gratitude each day even if it is in the smallest way.

    I love what you say about protecting that which we love…

    Thank you for this moving essay.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Yes!! Even having the damage done from PNS & breast cancer has something in it I’m grateful for; it has forced me to slow down!


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