Posts Tagged ‘praise’

cooking, feeding, loving
This evening I am grateful for the ordinary blessing of feeding my family a nourishing meal. This blessing is one that, too often, can be perceived as a chore.

I had clean water to boil for pasta, clean water to wash vegetables, and more clean water to drink. My kitchen has the conveniences of a stove and indoor plumbing. (I confess I usually complain about my electric stove, and I covet a gas one. With so many neighbors lacking electricity—well, my stove is a privilege.) We all could eat two helpings of dinner, and there were oatmeal raisin cookies for dessert.

The food we ate came from a local grocery store, and I had the luxury of driving there in a car to buy the food. I am thankful for the hands that grew the food, the laborers who picked the vegetables and who work long, hard days. I am thankful for the store clerks, who stand on their feet for long hours and who usually are very courteous.

At the table, I sat across from my daughter and heard stories about her day at school. Listening to her laughter and enjoying her company, I feel tremendously fortunate.

Cleaning up after the meal, I could turn on the faucet for fresh, hot water. Soap is plentiful. Tomorrow, God willing, I will be able to repeat this process once again.

May I not take these privileges for granted. May I be encouraged to work for justice so that these gifts are more widely available to others.


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I sincerely strive to practice gratitude in my daily life, throughout the day as moments of joy arise, and also at the day’s end when I take at least a moment for quiet reflection.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, I am feeling acutely aware of the many things for which I must give thanks to God. May I never take for granted these simple blessings, without which I would be lost:
• my family, friends, colleagues, teachers—all the beloved people in my life;
• my home, a safe shelter that even (bonus!) has hot running water and a cozy woodstove;
• clean water to drink, to wash, and keep this cozy shelter clean;
• nourishing food to eat, and to feed my child when she is hungry;
• good health—a body strong enough that illnesses tend to be minor inconveniences rather than crises.

Even as I take note of these blessings, I am aware that our blessings from God are too numerable to count. Our very lives and breath come from God. I do not pretend to be able to note all of my blessings; rather, I want to lift up a spirit of gratitude.

On November 22, we will observe Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. As a step toward observing thanksgiving every day, throughout November I will be making a series of posts about gratitude. Sometimes the post will be a brief list, and other times it might be a more lengthy reflection. I welcome your comments, or links to blogs where you also are trying to lift up a spirit of gratitude.

May God help us to be aware of our blessings and to be grateful, ever grateful.

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O Lord that lends me life,
Lend me a heart replete with thankfulness.
—William Shakespeare

Meister Eckhart, a 13th-century mystic, eloquently observed, “If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.”  These words describe for me the abundant blessings that can come into our lives when we recognize and acknowledge what God gives to us each day.  Through this seemingly simple act, we can increase our awareness of God and, hopefully, our ability to walk a path that will be pleasing to God.

Alhamdulillah: all praise belongs to God. © Shahinshah

I pray that we each find ways to offer praise and thanksgiving on a daily basis, as many times as we can remember.  A Muslim custom is to say “alhamdulillah” throughout daily life. This means “all praise belongs to God,” or, in more common English usage, “thanks be to God.”  For example, when you ask someone in greeting, “How are you?,” the customary response would be, “I’m doing well, alhamdulillah.”  This phrase , when offered mindfully, acknowledges that all is due to the grace and mercy of God, the source of all life and all blessings. A friend from Yemen shared that when she moved to the U.S., each morning in the shower she would say, “Alhamdulillah for the hot water.” In Yemen, she did not have hot water coming readily and abundantly from the tap; when she received this ordinary blessing, she felt compelled to offer thanks.  This is what we must do: to praise God for the most ordinary of gifts. How often do you turn on the tap and say, “Praise be to God! Thank you for blessing me with clean water”? May we offer praise and thanksgiving freely and with sincerity.

What might happen if we all practice noticing our ordinary blessings?  Realizing how rich we are, we might be inspired to give more often—not only material goods, but offerings of the spirit, extending a smile, a listening ear.  Our sense of wonder can be deepened by our thankfulness for the sensory pleasures of nature—the blue of the sky, the song of a bird, and the crunch of leaves underfoot.  Cultivating a spirit of thanksgiving might inspire us to greater appreciation of one another and deeper joy in our daily living.  We can begin, in this moment, to thank God for each person who is a blessing in our lives, for it is God who created them and who renews their life each morning.

When we feast with our families, we give thanks for the abundance of God.  When we experience days of scarcity, may we also feel thankful, for it is in those days  that we have a chance to rely more heavily upon God and upon one another. When we wake each morning, may we give thanks that we have another day to serve one another, another day to strive to make God’s love manifest through our actions. With poet Maya Angelou, I invite you to “continue to let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer.”

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light to listen by:

La Señora Mercedes Sosa (1935-2009)

“Sólo le pido a Dios”


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