Primitive religion is not believed, it is danced!

Arthur Darby Nock

Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
And only he who sees takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.

Elizabeth Browning

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

On being Grateful!

I had a conversation the other day, and a friend and I were talking about prayer.  I suggested that since I really don't know how to pray (I really am bad at it), and because Paul tells me that I, along with all people, really don't know how to pray, and thus need the Spirit to do our praying for us, that I generally simply try to connect with God, and say "go for it God."  

My friend and I decided that there really are two kinds of prayer.  The kind where we want to tell God what to do, and the kind where we  are simply willing (ala Gerald May) and "let go and let God."

Later the conversation turned to pain, and toward all those situations where we really would like to tell God what to do.  I was reminded at that point of some words shared by Christopher Germer in his book "The Mindful Path to Self Compassion."  In that book he states "pain creates a conflict between the way things are and how we'd like them to be and that makes our lives feel unsatisfactory.  The more we wish our lives were different the worse we feel."  And then he makes this statement.  "We can measure our happiness by the gap between what we want and how things are."  Or we can think about it another way.  Pain represents the gap between what we want and what we have.

Which brings me to gratitude.  I have been finding, and believe me it has been a difficult task to come to this place, that the more I focus on what I have, rather than on what I think I need and want, the less pain I feel, and the more joy.  It is not that focusing on what I have gets rid of pain.  Things in my life still hurt.  But I don't suffer as much.  In letting go of my desires, or at least my attachment to my desires, I change my relationship to those things I don't have.

Which brings me to Thanksgiving.  On this Thanksgiving day I am going to think about what I have.  And I am going to be grateful to God for all the things God has given me.  And at least for a moment, I am going to let go of my obsession with what I don't have.  

I am going to be grateful

And I am going to sing from the heart, my favorite Thanksgiving hymn

Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done, in Whom this world rejoices;
Who from our mothers’ arms has blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.

O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts and blessèd peace to cheer us;
And keep us in His grace, and guide us when perplexed;
And free us from all ills, in this world and the next!

All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given;
The Son and Him Who reigns with Them in highest Heaven;
The one eternal God, whom earth and Heaven adore;
For thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.

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