Meditations on gratitude.

So while I think of it,
let me paint a thank-you on my palm
for this God, this laughter of the morning,
lest it go unspoken.
— Anne Sexton. excerpt from Welcome Morning

SONGS about THANKS:

PRAYER of THANKSGIVING— Howard Thurman
Today, I make my Sacrament of Thanksgiving.
I begin with the simple things of my days:
Fresh air to breathe,
Cool water to drink,
The taste of food,
The protection of houses and clothes,
The comforts of home.
For all these I make an act of Thanksgiving this day!
I bring to mind all the warmth of humankind that I have known:
My mother’s arms,
The strength of my father
The playmates of my childhood,
The wonderful stories brought to me from the lives
Of many who talked of days gone by when fairies
And giants and all kinds of magic held sway;
The tears I have shed, the tears I have seen;
The excitement of laughter and the twinkle in the
Eye with its reminder that life is good.
For all these I make an act of Thanksgiving this day!
I finger one by one the messages of hope that awaited me at the crossroads:
The smile of approval from those who held in their hands the reins of my security;
The tightening of the grip in a simple handshake when I
Feared the step before me in darkness;
The whisper in my heart when the temptation was fiercest
And the claims of appetite were not to be denied;
The crucial word said, the simple sentence from an open
Page when my decision hung in the balance.
For all these I make an act of Thanksgiving this day!
I pass before me the main springs of my heritage:
The fruits of labors of countless generations who lived before me,
Without whom my own life would have no meaning;
The seers who saw visions and dreamed dreams;
The prophets who sensed a truth greater than the mind could grasp
And whose words would only find fulfillment
In the years which they would never see;
The workers whose sweat has watered the trees,
The leaves of which are for the healing of the nations;
The pilgrims who set their sails for lands beyond all horizons,
Whose courage made paths into new worlds and far off places;
The saviors whose blood was shed with a recklessness that only a dream
Could inspire and God could command.
For all this I make an act of Thanksgiving this day!
I linger over the meaning of my own life and the commitment
To which I give the loyalty of my heart and mind:
The little purposes in which I have shared my loves,
My desires, my gifts;
The restlessness which bottoms all I do with its stark insistence
That I have never done my best, I have never dared
To reach for the highest;
The big hope that never quite deserts me, that I and my kind
Will study war no more, that love and tenderness and all the
inner graces of Almighty affection will cover the life of the
children of God as the waters cover the sea.
All these and more than mind can think and heart can feel,
I make as my sacrament of Thanksgiving to Thee,
[O God] in humbleness of mind and simplicity of heart.

FEASTING John O’Donohue

As we begin this meal with grace,
Let us become aware of the memory
Carried inside the food before us:

The quiver of the seed
Awakening in the earth,

Unfolding in a trust of roots
And slender stems of growth,

On its voyage toward harvest,
The kiss of rain and surge of sun;

The innocence of animal soul
That never spoke a word,

Nourished by the earth
To become today our food;

The work of all the strangers
Whose hands prepared it,

The privilege of wealth and health
That enables us to feast and celebrate.

Savoring the Small Stuff: Ordinary Gratitude as Spiritual Practice  (excerpt from full article— Carl Gregg

… ways that we can be more intentional about noticing and responding to the parts of our lives for which we are most (and least) grateful.

I. Noticing

… What do you tend to notice in your daily life? And why? … we could notice at any given time — different sights, sounds, smells, tastes, touches, or emotions — but our personalities shape what stands out to us and what fades into the background … you can amplify the power of this practice — and keep yourself accountable to regularly noticing what you are grateful for — by making a commitment to share your daily gratitude (or gratitudes) with someone else, whether it is a child, a partner, or a friend.

II. The Awareness Examen

… one of the most consistently helpful ways … is a practice called the Awareness Examen … It helps you weigh the value of various aspects of your life. The examen was first detailed by Ignatius of Loyola, the 16th century founder of the Jesuits … shorter and more accessible book by Dennis, Sheila and Matthew Linn called Sleeping with Bread: Holding What Gives You Life. In short, the examen encourages you to respond to two questions at the end of each day either around the dinner table with your family or silently before you go to sleep: … you can ask “What am I most grateful for today?” and “What am I least grateful for today?” Over time, to add nuance, you can ask variations on your consolations such as, “Where did I feel most connected, most alive, most energized, or most loved?” Correspondingly, you can ask “Where did I feel most isolated, most enervated, or most taken for granted?”

… And as you notice patterns of what consistently makes you feel connected, alive, energized, and loved, the invitation is to find ways to cultivate more of that person, place, or activity in your life. … As you notice patterns of what consistently makes you feel isolated, enervated, or taken for granted, an invitation is to consider if you should find ways to have less of that person, place, or activity in your life.

III. The Spiritual Practice of Savoring

This practice of noticing and choosing what is life-affirming over what is life-negating can seem particularly simple or obvious: structure your life to do more frequently those things that bring you consolation and do less frequently those things that bring you desolation … gently think back through my day, and name those things I’m grateful for. It’s honestly a great way to fall asleep: savoringthose things you are most grateful for. … Of course, all this talk about gratitude and savoring is easier said than done. Cultivating ordinary gratitude, noticing our consolations and desolations, and savoring them are all practices that happen over time. As with practicing the piano, practicing basketball, or practicing yoga, method and frequency matter … “Practices doesn’t necessarily make perfect, but it does make permanent.” … Practice makes permanent by ingraining habits that are difficult to break.

Application

For now, with the potential stress and joy of Thanksgiving still a few days away, I invite you to spend a short time practicing the art of savoring. Ask yourself, “What am I grateful for?” Then, pause in the silence, and listen. Allow yourself to be potentially surprised about what emerges for you as a source of gratitude. As you do so, remember the guidance from Buddha’s Brain: “Make [your consolation] last by staying with it for 5, 10, even 20 seconds [or longer].” Savor this source of gratitude with your whole self. “Focus on your emotions and body sensations…. Let the experience fill your body and be as intense as possible.”

·      What are you grateful for in your life?

·      What do you need to savor?

GRATITUDE— Edgar Albert Guest

Be grateful for the kindly friends that walk along your way,
Be grateful for the skies of blue that smile from day to day,
Be grateful for the health you own, the work you find to do,
For round about you there are men less fortunate than you.

Be grateful for the growing trees, the roses soon to bloom,
The tenderness of kindly hearts that shared your days of gloom,
Be grateful for the morning dew, the grass beneath your feet,
The soft caresses of your babes and all their laughter sweet.

Acquire the grateful habit, learn to see how blessed you are,
How much there is to gladden life, how little life to mar!
And what if rain shall fall to-day and you with grief are sad,
Be grateful that you can recall the joys that you have had.

I Am Thankful For — Nancy J Carmody

I am thankful for

… the mess to clean up after a party
because it means I have been surrounded
by friends.

​… the taxes that I pay
because it means that I’m employed.

… the clothes that fit a little too snug
because it means I have enough to eat.

​… .my shadow who watches me work
because it means I am out in the sunshine.

​… .the spot I find at the far end of the parking lot because it means I am
capable of walking.

​… all the complaining I hear about our Government because it means we have freedom of speech.

​… that lady behind me in church who sings offkey
​because it means that I can hear.

​… .lawn that needs mowing, windows
that need cleaning, and gutters that need fixing because it means I have a home.

… my huge heating bill
because it means that I am warm.

​… weariness and aching muscles
at the end of the day because it means
that I have been productive.

… the alarm that goes off in the early morning hours because it means
that I am alive.

REMEMBERING or BEING ALONE on HOLIDAYS: Different Viewpoints

PIE with SPIRITS Mary Wellemeyer

This is the very pumpkin pie my grandmother made—almost.
She was a modern woman
who knew how to follow recipes.
Receipts, she called them,
because they had been received.
She had a rule
for pie crust that was constant
until, from time to time, it changed.
I have that rule, in turn,
and it has moved on,
just a bit, from where she left it.
This is my special shared moment
with her, departed a quarter century.
As I work, I am all ages of myself,
and the thought of my tall son
comes to join us,
though he hardly knew her.
He makes pies with wild abandon,
sculpting them from material and artistry.
He has received pie somehow
at the level of soul.
The three of us make pie together,
preheating the oven,
cutting butter into flour,
adding water,
flouring a board,
rolling the crust.
To honor her, I follow the recipe.
To honor him, I change just one thing.
To honor myself, I take my time and smile.

ALONE on THANKSGIVING — Jaucelyn Montgomery I am thankful for the time alone
Glad everyone is going home
Now I can sit and be really lazy
No one to drive me absolutely crazy
Eat pizza and drink some beer
Sit around in my lowest gear
Watch football on T.V.
Light a fire and put on a favorite CD
Dance and sing to my heart’s content
This time alone will be well spent
So if you get the chance to skip Thanksgiving,
Make it fun don’t have misgivings
THE DAY AFTER — Virginia Miranda

Keeping up our tradition
Work my bones for the occasion
No one to appreciate my special feast
The dinner table was empty
No one to sit
No one to thank God for blessings
No one to carry the sense of appreciation
Where did the tradition go?
Did it go with my mother’s Alzheimers disease?
Did it go to the vanity world of nonchalant?
The day after
Just another day or survival
Just another day for a cup of coffee
Just another day to reflect on the chaos of the days before
Thanksgiving, just another day
Thank you God for letting me cope
Just another day

ALONE on THANKSGIVING — Katherine Bebbington
For the snow and bitter cold
For windows that rattle
And floorboards that creak
Ancient clocks that tick
Loudly in the silence
A cat curled against my side
A fire burning, candles lit
Lifting their smoke and fragrance
To God like prayers.
I’m thankful for this moment
Alone and quiet, and that
Somehow there is beauty
Even in this loneliness.
The courage to be brave;
For this I am thankful.

AWARENESS of INDIGENOUS PEOPLES
on Thanksgiving Holiday

Welcome to Indian Country— Rena Priest

Where is Indian Country?
It’s everywhere we stand.
It’s anywhere we dance.
It’s where the earth loves
the feel of our feet.

Welcome to Indian Country.

What does that mean?
It means this is where
we lift our voice in song
and make a joyful drumbeat
so our hearts can sing along.

Welcome to Indian Country.

This beloved country here,
where we honor our ancestors
by growing stronger every year,
by making laughter the answer
that wipes away our tears.

Welcome to Indian Country.

What does the future hold?
In uncertain times like these
we reach for words like hope
and things we can be sure of—
sunrises, beauty, and love.

Welcome to Indian Country.

It’s everywhere we dance and
where the feast is truly grand.

Welcome to Indian Country.
Now give us back our land!

The Thanksgivings

— Harriet Maxwell Converse

We who are here present thank the Great Spirit that we are here to praise Him.
We thank Him that He has created men and women, and ordered that these beings shall always be living to multiply the earth.
We thank Him for making the earth and giving these beings its products to live on.
We thank Him for the water that comes out of the earth and runs for our lands.
We thank Him for all the animals on the earth.
We thank Him for certain timbers that grow and have fluids coming from them for us all.
We thank Him for the branches of the trees that grow shadows for our shelter.
We thank Him for the beings that come from the west, the thunder and lightning that water the earth.
We thank Him for the light which we call our oldest brother, the sun that works for our good.
We thank Him for all the fruits that grow on the trees and vines.
We thank Him for his goodness in making the forests, and thank all its trees.
We thank Him for the darkness that gives us rest, and for the kind Being of the darkness that gives us light, the moon.
We thank Him for the bright spots in the skies that give us signs, the stars.
We give Him thanks for our supporters, who had charge of our harvests.
We give thanks that the voice of the Great Spirit can still be heard through the words of Ga-ne-o-di-o.
We thank the Great Spirit that we have the privilege of this pleasant occasion.
We give thanks for the persons who can sing the Great Spirit’s music, and hope they will be privileged to continue in his faith.
We thank the Great Spirit for all the persons who perform the ceremonies on this occasion.

The Delight Song of Tsoai-talee

—N. Scott Momaday

I am a feather on the bright sky
I am the blue horse that runs in the plain
I am the fish that rolls, shining, in the water
I am the shadow that follows a child
I am the evening light, the lustre of meadows
I am an eagle playing with the wind
I am a cluster of bright beads
I am the farthest star
I am the cold of dawn
I am the roaring of the rain
I am the glitter on the crust of the snow
I am the long track of the moon in a lake
I am a flame of four colors
I am a deer standing away in the dusk
I am a field of sumac and the pomme blanche
I am an angle of geese in the winter sky
I am the hunger of a young wolf
I am the whole dream of these things
You see, I am alive, I am alive
I stand in good relation to the earth
I stand in good relation to the gods
I stand in good relation to all that is beautiful
I stand in good relation to the daughter of Tsen-tainte
You see, I am alive, I am alive

Thanksgiving weekend with JCC and around town: NOVEMBER 23-27

Highlights: Thanksgiving meals, Advent starts with theme of hope, first Advent candle lit, tree festival, Santa arrives in Jxn, carol with DaCapo, Christmas tree lighting, sleigh rides, church holiday decorating begins, music around town and more!

WED, Nov 23

  • Community Service: COMMUNITY THANKSGIVING BASKETS
    • Over the past few days, Whitney Community Center volunteers delivered gifts to Jackson residents who are homebound or are in particular need of cheer. A big thank you to the businesses, organizations, groups and people who contributed basket items.
  • Community Events: MUSIC AROUND TOWN
    • Shannon Door: Jeremy Dean • 7-10pm
    • Red Parka Pub: Homecoming with Rek’lis • 8-11pm

THURS, Nov 24: THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY

  • **Community Event: FREE THANKSGIVING MEAL with American Legion**
    1pm • American Legion Post 46, 47 Tasker Hill Rd, Conway, NH
  • Community Event: THANKSGIVING MEAL with AMC
    • 1pm, 2:30pm, 4pm, and 5:30pm • AMC Highland Center (Bretton Woods, NH)
      Call 603-466-2727 for more information, including reservations. AMC Members: $34 (adults); $18 (children). Non-members: $39 (adults); $20 (children).
    • 1-6pm • AMC Joe Dodge Lodge (Pinkham Notch (Gorham, NH)
      For reservations and rates, please call 603-466-2727.
  • Community Event: LOCAL EATERIES offer THANKSGIVING MEALS (many are booked)
    • EAGLE MOUNTAIN HOUSE, Jackson, NH
    • WENTWORTH:, Jackson, NH
    • RED FOX BAR & GRILL, Jackson, NH
      Noon-6pm
      • Thanksgiving Buffet: Serving from 12pm-6pm for an all-you-can-eat buffet, offered at $39/person for adults and $19/person for children under 12.
        Fully booked for reservations. Accepting a limited number of walk-ins and call aheads the day of. If you were not able to make a reservation and would like to stop in, we recommend giving us a call before you head over to determine the wait time for your party size and add your name to the waitlist over the phone.
    • CHRISTMAS FARM INN, Jackson, NH
      • Reservations required
      • $59 plus a 20% service charge and 8.5% tax (guests ages 3 and up).
      • For reservations and additional questions, please call (603) 383-4313 ext.
    • INN at THORN HILL, Jackson, NH
      Noon & 2:30pm

FRI, Nov 25

  • Community Resource: LIBRARIES
  • C3: COCKTAILS & CHRISTIAN CONVERSATION will not meet
    5pm • Zoom (resumes for Advent themes next week, Dec 2nd)
  • Community Event: SANTA’s HOLIDAY EXPRESS
    • 11:30am through 3pm • Conway Scenic Railroad
    • Book your tickets online ahead of time for this very popular event.
    • Admission rates vary. Visit the Conway Scenic Railroad website for booking details and additional Santa’s Holiday Express info.
  • Community Event: JOURNEY to the NORTH POLE (Believe in Books / Theater in the Woods)
    • Weekend rides
    • Info & tickets: Journey to the North Pole including online tickets, dates, departure times and more.
    • Partnered with Lincoln, NH’s Hobo Railroad and North Conway, NH’s Conway Scenic Railroad to create a Christmas-themed train ride that children will never forget
    • Special treats, a stop at the North Pole post office to drop off Santa’s letters, a reading of “The Night Before Christmas”, elf singalongs, and even a meeting with Santa himself!
  • Community Event: SLEIGH RIDES @ Nestlenook Farm
    Nestlenook Farm, 66 Dinsmore Road, Jackson, NH
  • Community Event: JINGLE BELL CHOCOLATE TOUR SOLD OUT: Book your ride for next season: 978-580-0905.
  • Community Event: FESTIVAL of TREES
    10am-7pm, Settler’s Green, North Conway, NH
    • Head to Unit A14 (next door to the Lindt Chocolate Shop)
    • Come just to take in the sights or see if you can win your favorite tree by dropping a raffle ticket in each tree’s respective bucket.
    • Admission is $10 for adults and free for children under 12.
    • Purchase 25 additional raffle tickets for an extra $10.
  • Community Event: FRIDAY NIGHT JAZZ: Tom Robinson (piano), Brian Hathaway (bass) and Rick Erwin (drums)
    7pm • Majestic Cafe, Conway Village
  • Community Events: MUSIC AROUND TOWN
    • Wildcat Tavern: Al Shafner • 6-9pm
    • Shannon Door: Mike & Becca • 6-9pm
    • Red Parka Pub: Now Is Now • 8-11pm
    • Shovel Handle Pub; Dan Aldrich •  5:30-8:30pm

SAT, Nov 26

  • Community Event: SANTA’s FIRST VISIT & ANNUAL TREE LIGHTING
    4:30 pm – 6:30 pm • Gazebo by Jackson Historical Society
    • Free
    • Visit Santa 4:30-6pm
    • Carols with DaCapo
    • Tree-lighting @ 6pm
    • Refreshments follow at Inn at Thorn Hill
  • Community Resource: LIBRARIES
  • Community Event: SLEIGH RIDES @ Nestlenook Farm
    Nestlenook Farm, 66 Dinsmore Road, Jackson, NH
  • Community Event: JINGLE BELL CHOCOLATE TOUR SOLD OUT: Book your ride for next season: 978-580-0905.
  • Community Event: SANTA’s HOLIDAY EXPRESS
    • 11:30am through 3pm • Conway Scenic Railroad
    • Book your tickets online ahead of time for this very popular event.
    • Admission rates vary. Visit the Conway Scenic Railroad website for booking details and additional Santa’s Holiday Express info.
  • Community Event: JOURNEY to the NORTH POLE (Believe in Books / Theater in the Woods)
    • Weekend rides
    • Info & tickets: Journey to the North Pole including online tickets, dates, departure times and more.
    • Ppartnered with Lincoln, NH’s Hobo Railroad and North Conway, NH’s Conway Scenic Railroad to create a Christmas-themed train ride that children will never forget
    • Special treats, a stop at the North Pole post office to drop off Santa’s letters, a reading of “The Night Before Christmas”, elf singalongs, and even a meeting with Santa himself!
  • Community Events: MUSIC AROUND TOWN
    • Shannon Door: Mike & Becca • 7-10pm
    • Red Parka Pub: Now Is Now • 8-11pm
    • Wildcast Tavern: Jonathan Sarty • 6-8:30pm

SUN, Nov 27 – ADVENT BEGINS

  • INTERFAITH GATHERING
    8am • Old red library or Zoom (link required)
    • Join us for poetry, conversation, and prayer.
  • WORSHIP with ADVENT 1: Hope
    10:30am • JCC  & in-person
    • Zoom (link required)
    • Advent candlle-lighting
    • Message: Rev Gail Doktor
    • Music Sharon Novak
  • Community Event: SLEIGH RIDES @ Nestlenook Farm
    Nestlenook Farm, 66 Dinsmore Road, Jackson, NH
  • Community Event: JINGLE BELL CHOCOLATE TOUR SOLD OUT: Book your ride for next season: 978-580-0905.
  • Community Events: MUSIC AROUND TOWN
    • Shannon Door: Mitch Alden • 6-9pm
    • Red Parka Pub: Blue Sunday with Juke Joint Devils • 5-8pm

Daily Advent Devotional: Day 20 – Fri, Dec 18

Gratitude is the birthplace of joy. Or vice versa.
            Appreciation and perspective enable you to embrace whatever comes. To find resilience in hard times. To opt for creative responses to challenging circumstances. To be curious rather than angry. It cultivates compassion and connection. Gratitude permits your starting point to be one of acceptance and adaptation, of positive thinking and an attitude of hope and empowerment. You can find beauty and satisfaction even in the midst of thorny times.
            With gratitude, you cherish what is already within reach. And value whatever gifts and experiences come to fruition. You may respect your history, savor the present moment, and believe in the potential of your future. All while experiencing keen awareness of now.
Rev Gail

For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work; at the works of your hands I sing for joy. —Psalm 92:4

The root of joy is gratefulness … It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful. ― Brother David Steindl-Rast

Joy is the simplest form of gratitude. — Karl Barth

Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day. ― Henri J.M. Nouwen

I think joy and sweetness and affection are a spiritual path. We’re here to know God, to love and serve God, and to be blown away by the beauty and miracle of nature. You just have to get rid of so much baggage to be light enough to dance, to sing, to play. You don’t have time to carry grudges; you don’t have time to cling to the need to be right. — Anne Lamott

Mon, Nov 30 Gratitude Reflection

As the month draws to a close, appreciate endings. Completions. What has come full circle, and is now finished? What does it offer to you?

         Our lives, our calendars, our cultures are filled with origin stories and also tales about how the world will end, or what comes next, when life ends. Our faith also gives us a guide as to what comes next. For instance, death is not the final state of being: life beyond death is promised to us. And yet, one form of ending is mortal death.

         Yet we have many other milestones that represent conclusion. Graduations. Retirements. Anniversaries. We create rituals around the completion of certain experiences, such as childhood, education, and work. They celebrate the past, examine history, and then name the end of this stage of life. They clear the path for what comes next.

         Endings may look like punctuation marks. Periods. Question marks. Colons that promise there’s more to come.

         We have traditions for saying goodbye. For letting go. For releasing. For mourning. For acknowledging many kinds of endings.

         Today, give thanks for endings. — Rev Gail

I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. — John 17:4

I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. — Philippians 1:6

But I do not count my life of any value to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the good news of God’s grace. — Acts 20:24

And in this matter I am giving my advice: it is appropriate for you who began last year not only to do something but even to desire to do something—now finish doing it, so that your eagerness may be matched by completing it according to your means. For if the eagerness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has—not according to what one does not have. — 2 Corinthians 8:10-12

We should say in all joyfulness and cheerfulness as we retire to our beds, “I have lived; I have completed now the course that fortune long ago allotted me.” — Virgil

It is easier to live through someone else than to complete yourself. The freedom to lead and plan your own life is frightening if you have never faced it before. ― Betty Friedan

Rushing into action, you fail.
Trying to grasp things, you lose them.
Forcing a project to completion,
you ruin what was almost ripe.
Therefore the Master takes action
by letting things take their course.
He remains as calm at the end
as at the beginning.
He has nothing,
thus has nothing to lose.
What he desires is non-desire;
what he learns is to unlearn.
He simply reminds people
of who they have always been.
He cares about nothing but the Tao.
Thus he can care for all things.
Lao Tzu

Sun, Nov 29 Gratitude Reflection

Today give thanks for promises and covenants. What contracts and agreements define your life? What vows and oaths have you taken? What promises have you made and kept? Which have you broken?

         With whom did you make such agreements, such as a marriage vow, or the choice to adopt someone? Did you make a commitment to an institution, such as serving in the military, or in another role that similarly includes an oath of service?

What symbols in your life represent these promises? Rings? Medals? Certificates? Badges? Flags or banners? Uniforms?

         Who, then, has made promises and commitments to you? What oaths and pledges have been maintained or broken by others?

         Give thanks for promises and covenants. — Rev Gail

While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. — Matthew 26:26-28

Sometimes people don’t understand the promises they’re making when they make them. But you keep the promise anyway. That’s what love is. Love is keeping the promise anyway. John Green

I feel keeping a promise to yourself is a direct reflection of the love you have for yourself. I used to make promises to myself and find them easy to break. Today, I love myself enough to not only make a promise to myself, but I love myself enough to keep that promise. Steve Maraboli

Some things you don’t have to promise. You just do.
 
Rick Yancey

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