In August 1997, I had the great good fortune to be introduced to an Ojibwa elder by the name of Carolyn Oliver. She became my teacher for a year.
On the day we met, after interrogating me for about an hour, Carolyn gave me some teachings indoors then we walked to a park where she introduced me to a format for prayer. I was to offer these prayers outside in nature twice daily - in the mornings before sunrise and in the evenings before going to bed.
My instructions were to give thanks to everything I could think of or witness in Nature to give thanks to. In the beginning, she said, these prayers would take me perhaps 10 minutes, but soon they would increase to 20 minutes, then an hour, and even more. She was right!
I did as she instructed every morning and every night, no matter how early sunrise was, how late I went to bed, nor how tired I happened to be. Very soon I spent a minimum of one hour twice each day offering gratitude. I stood outside as early as 4:30 am in summer and in every weather condition imaginable. The spot I chose for these prayers was overlooking a river in front of two large cedar trees, in whose presence I felt safe.
Carolyn told me that this is how First Nations people gather their medicine.
I witnessed and acknowledged changes in the landscape as the seasons came and went. I thanked the seasons themselves and the weather beings. I gave thanks to many trees, plants, animals, birds, fish, insects, etc. for a multitude of their gifts. I expressed appreciation for many things about the river, our moon, Mother Earth, Father Sun, other stars and planets. I was moved by my own feelings of appreciation. Until these prayers, ‘thank you’ was about being polite.
Various aspects of Nature began speaking back to me, teaching me and inspiring me with ideas. I learned that only we humans wonder what we should do or who we should be. These prayers transformed me. I was no longer consumed by negative thoughts and for the first time I felt connected and related to life around me. I felt known and loved.
I became prone to hippity-hopping down the streets or singing from my joy! I continue to give many thank you's daily (mostly inside at my altar now) to aspects of our world that I feel particularly connected to. And, continue to gather medicine in my daily prayers!
I highly recommend this form of gathering medicine!
Here is a 3.5-minute video I recorded about this experience.