Education, Entertainment

Nature of Gratitude’ gives back to county

Tom Titus and flautist Gentle Thunder performed together during a piece called ”Spirits,” about Titus’ childhood home, during the fifth annual Nature of Gratitude at the Opal Center on Dec. 6. Aliya Hall/The Chronicle

COTTAGE GROVE – Eric Alan, one of the creators of Nature of Gratitude, said that in difficult times, it’s important to be grateful for the good things despite the bad things.
That was one of the major takeaways of this year’s Nature of Gratitude event, held at the Opal Center for Arts & Education on Dec. 6.
”Returning” was the theme of the show, which has happened annually for the last five years. It was created by Alan, who is a photographer and author, and author Tom Titus. Each year they raise money for a nonprofit, and this year they chose Community Sharing of Cottage Grove.
The event included readings from Titus and Alan’s books ”Palindrome: Grateful Reflections from the Home Ground” and ”Wild Grace: Nature as a Spiritual Path,” respectively. Alan even read an excerpt from his upcoming book ”Grateful by Nature.”
Spoken-word performances were given by Jorah LaFleur, Charles Goodrich and Charles Mattoon.
The show included music from Grammy-nominated indigenous flute master Gentle Thunder, songwriter and Oregon Book Award-winning poet Beth Wood and vocalist Halie Loren. It also showcased a Trashion show by Michele and Fyona Rose.
One attendee, Paula Goodbar, said that when the show opened with the flute music of Gentle Thunder she ”knew we were in for something special.”
During the show, Alan and Titus joked that when they were introduced they realized they had two things in common: nature and gratitude, and from that the show was formed.
”It changed my life,” Titus said about the event. ”It’s an amazing group of people.”
Alan described the show as ”organic,” and said that it has grown since its first year.
”I never had a project be so easy,” he said.
Kimberly Haynie, another attendee, said that she resonated with the spirit of the event because whenever she’s felt stuck in life, what’s gotten her out of it is being grateful and being of service.
Gratitude is an active commitment independent of emotions, Alan said. Although he has had a rough year, he said his response is to get up early and dive into gratitude as a daily project.
”It’s what gives me energy to survive the challenges of being a caregiver and the wildness of the world,” he said.