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

Fri, Nov 20 Gratitude Reflection

Give thanks for what falls. We crush underfoot the acorns that land in our paths, or kick them aside as fodder for wild creatures. We press bruised apples, shaken from their limbs, into cider. We pause in wonder at the rushing torrents that cascade as waterfalls, dropping dramatically, tumultuously, to the river below. Our own bodies sometimes tumble.

            Yes, some things that fall are discarded, no longer useful, damaged by the impact upon landing. Some are hurt and broken in the descent, in need of healing and repair. Other things are made glorious by the journey that begins at the top and plummets downward.

            Our eyes fall as we grow weary. Night falls as the day ends. Sometimes, falling simply signifies release and reprieve.

Let us give thanks for what falls. — Rev Gail

It is before their own lord that they stand or fall. And they will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make them stand. — Romans 14:4b

My vows to you I must perform, O God;
    I will render thank offerings to you. For you have delivered my soul from death,
    and my feet from falling,
so that I may walk before God
    in the light of life.
— Psalm 56: 12-13

And falling’s just another way to fly. ― Emilie Autumn

It is sometimes a mistake to climb; it is always a mistake never even to make the attempt. If you do not climb, you will not fall. This is true. But is it that bad to fail, that hard to fall? ― Neil Gaiman

Stumbling is not falling. – Malcolm X 

Wed, Nov 18 Gratitude Reflection

People are essential to our wellbeing. Isolation from human interactions contributes to people’s poor health: mental and physical.

At the same time, while we notice some people, we often overlook others, who are integral to our daily living. Now’s the chance to look twice. Recognize someone who regularly shows up in your life, in ways that you don’t usually realize. Cashiers, custodians, cooks, drivers, delivery people: these are just some of the people who work ‘frontline’ roles, and due to the pandemic, and have received recognition as essential workers.

Meanwhile, let us give thanks for relationships that renew and comfort us. Those folks who are beloved family and essential friends. Others who enrich our lives as teachers, coaches, mentors, coworkers, colleagues, companions, care givers, and more. Today you’re invited to actually focus on at least one these connections and their meaning for you.

While we’re giving thanks for people, we can even acknowledge difficult personalities that challenge us. Perhaps there’s a person in your life who troubles you; this person might also become — through gratitude — a teacher of sorts, offering up life lessons that they didn’t intend to share, but that you have found a way to claim as your own.

            Today, let us give thanks for people of all kinds. — Rev Gail

And now, our God, we give thanks to you and praise your glorious name. But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to make this freewill offering? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you. — 1 Chronicles 29:13-14

… and they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the Lord, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever toward Israel.” And all the people responded with a great shout when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. — Ezra 3:11

Then we your people, the flock of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise. Psalm 79:13

We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives. John F. Kennedy

In the end, though, maybe we must all give up trying to pay back the people in this world who sustain our lives. In the end, maybe it’s wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely, for as long as we have voices. — Elizabeth Gilbert

You know, when Nelson Mandela went to jail he was young and, you could almost say, bloodthirsty. He was head of the armed wing of the African National Congress, his party. He spent twenty-seven years in jail, and many would say, Twenty-seven years, oh, what a waste. And I think people are surprised when I say no, the twenty-seven years were necessary. They were necessary to remove the dross. The suffering in prison helped him to become more magnanimous, willing to listen to the other side. To discover that the people he regarded as his enemy, they too were human beings who had fears and expectations. And they had been molded by their society. And so without the twenty-seven years I don’t think we would have seen the Nelson Mandela with the compassion, the magnanimity, the capacity to put himself in the shoes of the other. ― Dalai Lama

Generosity does not require material abundance. When I think back on the many people who have been so generous toward me, I never think of money or “things.” Instead, I think of the way they gave me their presence, their confidence, their affirmation, support, and blessing — all gifts of “self” that any of us can give. And where does generosity come from? Perhaps from another life-giving virtue, the one called gratitude. — Parker Palmer

Tue, Nov 17 Gratitude Reflection

Pause and focus on water. Give thanks for this element that sustains life. In fresh form, untainted by toxins, it becomes a potable promise of surviving and thriving.

            Jesus’ first miracle transformed water into wine. He called himself the Living Water for the woman at the well, who offered him refreshment, though she was from a despised ethnicity that he would traditionally have shunned.

            In times of drought, such as we have experienced this season, wells run dry. Water collects detritus. Riverbeds become barren. Thirst parches throats, simply due to the idea of running out. Of not having enough.

            Give thanks for the abundance of water when it’s available. And for its precious presence, when it is scarce. — Rev Gail

You visit the earth and water it, you greatly enrich it;
the river of God is full of water;
    you provide the people with grain,
 for so you have prepared it.
 You water its furrows abundantly, settling its ridges,
    softening it with showers, and blessing its growth.
You crown the year with your bounty;
    your wagon tracks overflow with richness.
The pastures of the wilderness overflow,
    the hills gird themselves with joy,
      the meadows clothe themselves with flocks,
    the valleys deck themselves with grain,
they shout and sing together for joy.

  • Psalm 65

The Dead Sea in the Middle East receives fresh water, but it has no outlet, so it doesn’t pass the water out. It receives beautiful water from the rivers, and the water goes dank. I mean, it just goes bad. And that’s why it is the Dead Sea. It receives and does not give. In the end generosity is the best way of becoming more, more, and more joyful. ― Desmond Tutu

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