Thurs, Nov 26 Gratitude Reflection (Thanksgiving Day)

Notice what is still and calm, without motion or activity. Give thanks for this aspect of your world.

            A lake or pond, for instance, reflects like a mirror when still. It gives back the world to itself. It echoes and returns what is offered to it.

            A boulder or stone ledge has no voice. Such rock scapes show traces of age and reveal the record of geological events via their exposed layers. Yet they remain mute, silent, and seemingly permanent. They are tangible, solid, and ever-present: a source of serenity and assurance.

            What is still in your life? Calm? A place or way that is rooted, or centered, simply by its existence?

            Give thanks for stillness, for calm. Appreciate the opportunity to pause all the motion and remain in one place. — Rev Gail

Be still, and know that I am God. —Psalm 46:10

He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. —Mark 4:39

The ship of my life may or may not be sailing on calm and amiable seas. The challenging days of my existence may or may not be bright and promising. Stormy or sunny days, glorious or lonely nights, I maintain an attitude of gratitude. If I insist on being pessimistic, there is always tomorrow. Today I am blessed. — Maya Angelou

Resentment indicates we are still trying to fill the emptiness with something we think we deserve. Gratitude is the sign that God has filled the hole; indeed, that God has become the Whole in Whom we live, move, and have our being. – Steve Harper

Tue, Nov 24 Gratitude Reflection

Appreciate questions. Sometimes it is essential to dwell in the uncertainty of asking, the discomfort of not knowing. Sometimes we get a choice, as when we are students, and opt to learn. Other times, we are thrust into such situations, and must cope. Either way, this becomes a necessary skill: to be present to what we have not yet learned or thought, and to discover that there is much we do not yet understand.

            To ask, or to be asked, is to become vulnerable. When you inquire, you enter into a reciprocal relationship, expressing your own need for information or education, admitting you need support or assistance to attain the answer you seek. You acknowledge that, one way or another, you are seeking. You also turn to someone else for guidance toward an answer.

            Sometimes, simply by asking, you also discover that you know what is needed. That by articulating the question, you find insight within yourself.

            At the same time, to ask a question, or to be asked, is to become strong. When you embrace the state of uncertainty and not-knowing, you become more comfortable with growing and learning. To ask a question is to become more connected, to open yourself to the resources of a network of relationships. To be asked a question is to be honored or perceived as someone who serves as a guide or mentor.

            Appreciate that in the asking, or being asked, you do not have to know the answer. Sometimes it is best to acknowledge that you, too, will have to make inquiries in order to provide a solution or information. Or that if you are the one asking the question, be prepared with patience and humility, to wait for answers, or to receive only partial responses and incomplete understanding.

            Give thanks for questions. — Rev Gail

To you, O God of my ancestors,
    I give thanks and praise,
for you have given me wisdom and power,
    and have now revealed to me what we asked of you,
    for you have revealed to us what the king ordered.
— Daniel 2:23-24

There are going to be frustrations in life. The question is not: How do I escape? It is: How can I use this as something positive? Dalai Lama

GRATITUDE (excerpt) — Mary Oliver
What did you notice?
What did you hear?
When did you admire?
What astonished you?
What would you like to see again?
What was most tender?
What was most wonderful?
What did you think was happening?

Nov 22 Worship with Gratitude Focus

Worship Service

Message

JCC 112220 Gratitude for Next Chances from architect on Vimeo.

PRAYER of THANKSGIVING by Howard Thurman

Note: Thanks to Maren Tirabassi for posting this on her Facebook page. We shared it and reflected on it during two worship services.

Prayer of Thanksgiving by Howard Thurman, 1899–1981

Today, I make my Sacrament of Thanksgiving.
I begin with the simple things of my days:
Fresh air to breathe,
Cool water to drink,
The taste of food,
The protection of houses and clothes,
The comforts of home.
For all these I make an act of Thanksgiving this day!

I bring to mind all the warmth of humankind that I have known:
My mother’s arms,
The strength of my father
The playmates of my childhood,
The wonderful stories brought to me from the lives
Of many who talked of days gone by when fairies
And giants and all kinds of magic held sway;
The tears I have shed, the tears I have seen;
The excitement of laughter and the twinkle in the
Eye with its reminder that life is good.
For all these I make an act of Thanksgiving this day!

I finger one by one the messages of hope that awaited me at the crossroads:
The smile of approval from those who held in their hands the reins of my security;
The tightening of the grip in a simple handshake when I
Feared the step before me in darkness;
The whisper in my heart when the temptation was fiercest
And the claims of appetite were not to be denied;
The crucial word said, the simple sentence from an open
Page when my decision hung in the balance.
For all these I make an act of Thanksgiving this day!

I pass before me the main springs of my heritage:
The fruits of labors of countless generations who lived before me,
Without whom my own life would have no meaning;
The seers who saw visions and dreamed dreams;
The prophets who sensed a truth greater than the mind could grasp
And whose words would only find fulfillment
In the years which they would never see;
The workers whose sweat has watered the trees,
The leaves of which are for the healing of the nations;
The pilgrims who set their sails for lands beyond all horizons,
Whose courage made paths into new worlds and far off places;
The saviors whose blood was shed with a recklessness that only a dream
Could inspire and God could command.
For all this I make an act of Thanksgiving this day!

I linger over the meaning of my own life and the commitment
To which I give the loyalty of my heart and mind:
The little purposes in which I have shared my loves,
My desires, my gifts;
The restlessness which bottoms all I do with its stark insistence
That I have never done my best, I have never dared
To reach for the highest;
The big hope that never quite deserts me, that I and my kind
Will study war no more, that love and tenderness and all the
inner graces of Almighty affection will cover the life of the
children of God as the waters cover the sea.
All these and more than mind can think and heart can feel,
I make as my sacrament of Thanksgiving to Thee,
[O God] in humbleness of mind and simplicity of heart.

Sun, Nov 22 Gratitude Reflection

Give thanks for what is old. Appreciate what has matured and seasoned. Take notice of lives and perspectives made venerable through insight and experience.

Focus on an object, an artifact, whose purpose has become obscure or obsolete, but which is beautiful for its own sake, as a work of engineering and art. Appreciate an antique for its vintage status, for its rarity, for its implicit value. Get to know the history of what is old. Tell that story. Learn from it.

After all, what is old has endured. Shown persistent and resilience. Staying power. Has existed or lived for long periods of time.

On the other hand, be willing to part with what is old, and must be completed or set aside. Sometimes a belonging, an object or unstrument, a place or institution, no longer has function or relevance, and becomes an emotional, psychological, or physical burden. In the letting go, give thanks for what this item, location or relationship formerly contributed to your life. Acknowledge its significance, and honor it, and then lay it to rest. Say goodbye.

Aging has its own grace. It comes with changes, but also forms of liberation. The cares and concerns of youth, driven by the desire to create and generate, to accomplish and achieve, have transformed. With age comes curiosity. As we become ‘old’ we also embrace our capacity to adapt and learn.

The second half of human life requires a sense of purpose and passion, just like the first half. People continue to make meaning, but may do so in different ways.

Give thanks for what is old. — Rev Gail

You shall rise before the aged, and defer to the old; and you shall fear your God: I am the Lord. — Leviticus 19:32

I will look with favor upon you and make you fruitful and multiply you; and I will maintain my covenant with you. 10 You shall eat old grain long stored, and you shall have to clear out the old to make way for the new. 11 I will place my dwelling in your midst … — Leviticus 26:9-11

He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age … — Ruth 4:15a

Thus says the Lord:
I am going to restore the fortunes of the tents of Jacob,
    and have compassion on his dwellings;
the city shall be rebuilt upon its mound,
    and the citadel set on its rightful site.
Out of them shall come thanksgiving,
    and the sound of merrymakers.
I will make them many, and they shall not be few;
    I will make them honored,
and they shall not be disdained.
 Their children shall be as of old,
    their congregation shall be established before me…
—    Jeremiah 30:18-20

Seek not to follow in the footsteps of men of old; seek what they sought. — Matsuo Basho

I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and the new. — Ralph Waldo Emerson


Sat, Nov 21 Gratitude Reflection

Appreciate what rises. What goes up. What climbs.

The sun breaks over the horizon as it starts the day. People, in their efforts to achieve things, often rise. Sometimes the ascent is its own journey, sometimes it’s the path that leads to a goal or destination.

Sap rises. Birds and plans take off, balloons go aloft: they all rise. New life pushes up through the earth, toward the hope and necessity of sunlight, and rises.

Emotions rise. Expectations rise. Energy rises. Sometimes rising comes as too much of something: overwhelming or out-of-control.

Implicit in rising is the idea that things will soar. That you are making progress. Summiting. Reaching for a climax. Overcoming some obstacle or challenge.

Within the idea of the rising is also its corollary. What rises will also descend. Will settle down. Find a lower point or landing place again. Root itself in calm.

For now, let us give thanks for what rises, and all the promises and possibilities in that movement. — Rev Gail

Rise up, walk through the length and the breadth of the land, for I will give it to you. — Genesis 13:18

You shall put these words of mine in your heart and soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and fix them as an emblem on your forehead. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. — Deuteronomy 11:18-19

Rise up, O Lord; O God, lift up your hand; do not forget the oppressed. Psalm 10:12

We rise by lifting others. Robert Ingersoll

You’ve seen my descent. Now watch my rising! — Rumi

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