It is not so much about you is it, O God.
It is, at least, as much about us.
Our prayers that is.
And our praying.
Our remembering and our naming.
Our please and our thank you.
Those moments when our hearts break open a bit more.
When we pull others and the world just a bit closer.
Those times when we risk bearing the pain and struggles of another.
And, layer our gratitude on top of the gratitude of another until our hearts and theirs overflow.
And, so we pray, O God.
Sometimes with words.
Sometimes with sighs to deep for words.
Sometimes with our tears.
Sometimes stopped in our tracks by beauty and grace.
However we can or do,
In this moment, our prayers for the world entrusted now to our care and keeping.
Praying, too, that our lives follow where our prayers first lead.
Believing that to be true, O God, we remember.
We remember all who find themselves in need this day.
The people of Houston and Florida.
The people of the Caribbean and the Northwest.
The people of Mexico and Syrian and the refugees from Myanmar.
To say nothing of the needs that land so close to home.
A friend with cancer.
A colleague whose mother has died.
A neighbor who has lost his job.
Break open our hearts so that there might be room in our lives for their need and their sorrow and their hunger and their searching. We remember.
And, we remember those whose prayer this day is Thank you.
For the kindness of strangers and all who step forward to help.
For food enough and for a safe place to be.
For love expressed in the exchange of vows.
For water sprinkled on a tiny head.
Break open our hearts, O God, as we add our gratitude to theirs.
And, we remember Your presence with us.
Allowing you to mark our lives that we might find strength and hope.
Allowing you to mark our lives that we might be Your presence to others.|
We remember, 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 say it a lot.
Maybe because I need to remember it myself.
That Thank you is our first and best prayer.
And, gratitude transforms our lives and the lives of those around us.
Here are ten things for which I am grateful.
- The doctors and medical staff who could repair my shoulder and keep me from being partially disabled.
- For my dog who pushes her nose under my hand and her body onto my lap.
- For this afternoon’s nap.
- For all those who added their piece that we could provide a safe place to sleep for those in our community who needed it this winter.
- For my children who are wonderful parents and partners and amazing young adults.
- For the luxury of dreaming about tomorrow.
- For the students who we will meet this week and consider for a college scholarship. Students who have overcome so much and yet have the courage to reach for a better tomorrow.
- For my wife, who in more ways than I can name sustains my life.
- For being here today.
- For this next breath….right now.
What are the ten things you would put on your list today?
While the world around me feels crazy, today I am thankful for the really good people in my life.
Ordinary, everyday people.
And their simple acts of kindness.
Who give of their time to make a difference.
Who give of their resources to help another.
Doing what they can.
Well, it’s just the right thing to do.
Intellectually, I know for every act of hate or violence there are hundreds of acts of goodness and kindness that go unreported and too often unnoticed, but today I needed something more than an intellectual understanding. I needed to know it in a different way. I needed to see it face to face.
So, to those who said to me today…
It is the least I could do.
How can I help?
Will this make a difference?
Because of you I will take a deep breath and find a way to take the next step.
Take nothing for granted,
even sunlight or breathing.
Don’t let your privilege blind you
to the sheer underserved miracle
of your blessings.
Don’t think you’re entitled
to colors or conversation.
Let gratitude overwhelm you,
sneak up behind you
and lift you off your feet.
Pick anything to practice on—
the sunlight on the poorly painted ledge
of the apartment across from yours,
standing as if ready to leap off
into your arms—
pick something, and give thanks.
When someone asks you how you are today
then use the surprised pause
to think of what for.
The person looking at you quizzically
may give you a hint.