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Posts Tagged ‘thankfulness’

commissioned by Children’s HopeChest.
created by Elizabeth Ahlem.

In the U.S., we observe a national holiday of Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November. The day gives an opportunity for families, often geographically scattered, to gather in table fellowship and to share their traditional foods. The time is set aside to be thankful for abundance, and for the company of loved ones.

Certainly this is a simplified description, and I know that many people are on their own, or hungry, or in unhappy homes, or grieving, or worn down by injustice. In the midst of these complexities and challenges, we still can find a spirit of gratitude. We can be thankful for our minds, ready to create a world of equity and peace; for our hearts, that long to give love where it is missing; for our souls, crying out for God’s kingdom to be built here, now, in our midst.

My heart knows that we are meant to give thanks every day, even (perhaps especially) when it it hard. Instead of giving thanks, we let our worry about what is lacking get in the way of seeing the good that is present. Even in hard times, we have gifts that we can use in service of those in need. As we turn to God in gratitude, may our eyes be open to the needs of those around us. When we see injustice, and want to know where God is amidst the pain, may we remember that we each are meant to carry out the vision of building God’s kingdom. Each of us has a part to play in lifting up the lowly, in giving strength to the weak, in granting rest to the weary.

Let us give thanks for courage, and the strength to act on our convictions as we endeavor to build a more just and equitable world. Let us turn our thankfulness into action. We nourish seeds of peace by giving our time and material resources to those who are working to eliminate poverty and injustice.

My thanks to artist Elizabeth Ahlem for permission to share her artwork. This image was commissioned by Children’s HopeChest, which works to serve orphaned and vulnerable children.

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30 days of gratitude journey concludes, with a hope for gratitude ever-increasing

The blessings in my life are abundant. Even on hard days, tiring days, I truly do not have to look far before  I realize how much goodness is present in my life: the people I love, the natural world, sensory pleasures, the basic physical needs of survival, my passions and skills. Cultivating gratitude reveals the beauty, and it shines light through the darkness that sometimes surrounds us.

May God help me to have a  prayer of gratitude always resonating from my heart.

And if you were to count God’s favors, you would not be able to number them; most surely God is forgiving, merciful. —Qur’an, Sūrah al-Nahl: 18

And whatever good thing you enjoy, it is from God. —Qur’an, Sūrah al-Nahl: 53

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Continue
To let gratitude be the pillow
Upon which you kneel
To say your nightly prayer

© Maya Angelou (from her book “Celebrations”)

 

This verse speaks my hope, my intention. May God help me to live this way, always. I’m feeling grateful to all the poets, ancient and contemporary, who gift me these reminders to be conscious, fully present, and aware of God’s gifts.

 

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30 days of gratitude journey continues

Here I offer glimpses into the past week’s journal.

day 8, Thursday: a healthy body and the opportunity to enjoy exercise

day 9, Friday: a week full of work and the anticipation of rest and refreshment

day 10, Saturday: celebrations with friends

day 11, Sunday: visits with family full of stories and laughter

day 12, Monday: access to medical care and wise, compassionate doctors

day 12, Tuesday: a roof repaired and ready to protect from storms

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30 days of gratitude journey continues
day 4, Sunday: walking with my daughter outdoors, through woods in our backyard; birds birds birds busily preparing for winter, small winged bodies part of the Creator’s marvelous work

day 5, Monday: the joyful twinkling in a child’s eyes as she listens to a read aloud story

day 6, Tuesday, Election Day in the U.S.: grateful for the many people who struggled for so long so that women could have the right to vote; for those who continue to work for fair, equitable, and free elections worldwide.

day 7. Wednesday: my ability to read and write; my fortune to live in a country where there is free education; my privilege to live in a place where girls are given the right to education

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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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