In this moment which is now, O God,
But never again
Create some space within us we pray.
Push past our busyness.
And our lists.
And our focus on what comes next
Rather than the moment we have
Stop us long enough that we might take stock of ourselves.
Who we are.
How we are.
Our dreams and hopes.
Our brokenness and sorrow.
And, to make room for the other and to leave space for you.
Those whom we love.
Those whom we barely know.
For all fall within the circle of Your love.
So, here we are, O God.
Create some space within us, we pray.
I sat down.
Deep breath in the early morning chill.
And I watched as my dog took stock of her surroundings.
She stood at attention for the longest time.
Taking in the morning.
And what was around her.
I sipped my coffee.
When was the last time
I stood or sat at attention for that long?
Was around me?
Being quiet enough
And in that time
To allow God to come close.
Help me to look into the eyes
And to see the faces
Of those whose lives intersect mine today.
Catching a glimpse of the Holy
That I otherwise might miss in my haste.
Help me to pull into this passing moment
Those whom I love
In the sacredness of this moment.
Help me to remember
That each moment
Holds the potential for either good
Or tearing down.
May I chose wisely and well.
Help me be mindful of my own life.
Both fragile and strong.
Given to me this day as a gift.
That gratitude might weave its way through each moment.
Help me, O God.
A card with that saying on sits on my desk.
I see it every day.
And, truthfully, every day I try to say Thank you.
Sometimes it is a pretty perfunctory prayer for food enough and for the relationships which sustain my life. Other times my prayer comes from a deeper place. The events of the day or chance phone call or email touch something within me and pulls a deeper sense of gratitude to the surface of my life.
If the only prayer we ever say is Thank You…
While I try to say Thank You each day and regularly remind others to do the same, today I learned something new about gratitude.
I learned that gratitude is hard.
It requires effort.
It means stopping long enough to pay attention.
It means seeing who and what is around me.
It means pushing beyond the narrow confines of my shrink wrapped life.
It means making space and letting go and opening up all of which is risky.
And, I used to think it was so easy…..
I have been having a hard time wishing others a Happy New Year.
So much both around me and ahead of us feels so unsettled.
I feel like I am holding my breath.
And, even in the best of circumstances, what I wish for others in the days ahead is so much more than happy.
One way others have told me they are dealing with a similar feeling is by turning off or turning inward. Not paying attention to what is happening in the world around them or focusing only on their own household. I can’t go there. Even though much of it is heartbreaking, what happens out there is important. And, it is important that I see it and know about it and grapple with it, because to ignore it is disaster.
Today, I realized part of what I need is some counter-balance to the headlines in the news. In my heart of hearts, I believe there is more goodness in the world than hatred. More kindness and caring than indifference and prejudice. But it takes intentionality and discipline to see it. So, beginning today each day I am going to write down three things which turn my eyes and my heart and my mind in that direction.
Here are my three for today.
- The folks at Antioch Baptist Church who, each year, plan and host a Martin Luther King Banquet whose theme this year is Honoring the Past, Shaping the Future. Their witness is inspiring.
- I spent some time today writing Thank you notes to several people who sent cards and a donation to the church at Christmas. One donation was in honor of an older woman who passed away last year. Each year she would send me a Christmas card and a note and a check for $100.00. This year her daughter sent a card on her mother’s behalf.
- I put the Christmas gifts we bought for my Mom in the basket where our high school students are collecting clothes for a Midnight Run this Friday evening. My Mom who is 87 doesn’t need much so for Christmas I bought her a sweatshirt and a winter hat and a pair of gloves. Someone who needs those items will receive them this Friday night.
In the days ahead there will certainly be more things to do, but for today I will do my best to pay attention.