Intro: It's easy during the month of November to think about thankfulness. A lot of us will probably in some way, shape or form, say "I’m thankful for…" this month. But gratitude is much more than a feeling or something we talk about around the holidays. Gratitude can also be a powerful spiritual practice that opens our hearts to the rhythm of giving and receiving that is the heartbeat of life itself.My response:
"For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land with flowing streams, with springs and underground waters welling up in valleys and hills, a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey ... Take care that you do not forget the Lord your God, by failing to keep his commandments, his ordinances, and his statutes, which I am commanding you today. The Lord your God [who] brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery ... remember the Lord your God." –Deuteronomy 8
It's relatively easy for me to affirm what's gone right, what could be worse, to compare my own situation to others (typically a bad idea), to discern how far I've traveled and how much I've grown spiritually. Like many women and like a lot of Christians, for me the glass always is at least half full, frequently close to overflowing. My challenge is to get out of rationalization and denial, to confront my own behaviors toward myself, others, and the earth, that are less than the best they could and should be. I also have difficulty acknowledging that some people's actions toward me have been toxic, hurtful, and hateful, since I always seem to get caught up in trying to appreciate their history and their lack of understanding and ability to act in more loving, encouraging ways.
This month I've illustrated my post with a collage I made of places in nature I love to visit, that every time I'm there give me perspective and enable me to start seeing myself and others more clearly. All those rocks in the background? We discover them everywhere, find ourselves navigating rocky roads almost wherever we go! Rocks are evidence of the great geological age of this planet, and they remind of us many transformative, defining events recorded in scripture and in our own lives. A few years ago during Lent the pastor gave us an opportunity to take home as many "baptismal rocks" (smallish pebbles and stones of many different colors and kinds) as we desired. Referring to the passage from Deuteronomy I quoted, obedience to God's commandments, ordinances, and statutes is a huge part of our baptismal covenant; of making our daily walk a living remembrance of God's acts of liberation and resurrection in our own lives.
Every day begins with a new sunrise; I love to wake up and get out of bed at least 30 minutes before new light begins to wash over the city. (I love evening twilight, too, but there's something truly magical about first light of a brand new day.) Standing on the shore of beaches, oceans, rivers, and bays, reminds me God who created such vastness also created me and the immediate world I inhabit; God even charges me with stewardship of the immense sweep of creation! The deserts of the Southwestern USA – Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, and California – are the best places for God to help strip me clear down to bare essentials. I love remembering how much life teems just beneath the apparently barren surface of the sand; I love experiencing the glory of desert flowers in bloom, as they remind me of the vivid contrast between Good Friday's deathly desolation and the glory of Resurrection. This is a practice for autumn months with their shorter, cooler days, and longer, chillier nights, and an excellent way to live thankfully all year round!
Other November synchrobloggers:
- Jeremy Myers – 5 Things to be Unthankful For
- Glenn Hager – Gr-atitude
- Carol Kuniholm – Grateful
- Amy Martin – Gratitude in a Culture of Economy
- Leah at Desert Spirit's Fire - Living Thanks
- Kathy Escobar - turning our ingrown eyeballs up & out
- Jack Kooyman – Gratitude as Action
- Christine Sine – Where is God When Disaster Hits?