Eat, Pray, Act
This thanksgiving is a weekend for counting our blessings. As I write in Southern Ontario, I am looking out my window at dramatic weather, wind chasing clouds grey with rain, then in the next minute, clear skies and hot humid air. And I am reminded that I am not worrying about how to survive a hurricane, an earthquake, a tsunami, or even someone filled with rage and malice who wants to act violently.
There is plenty of food in the kitchen, plenty of family and friends with whom to share, plenty of love to go around. I live in a pleasant neighbourhood with trees and flowers and gardens, in a city that is fairly enlightened, and fun. How could I be anything but grateful! These are the macro thanks.
On a simpler note, I am incredible grateful for electricity and running water. I had a new appreciation for my laundry room and appliances when I read the article about Puerto Ricans, trying to remember how to do laundry without electricity or running water. And yet, I saw a picture of some families, men and women laughing together about how they wished they had listened to their grandmothers.
All over the world, people just like me except for circumstance, are struggling for survival, worried about how to take care of their loved ones, worried that they might be killed for having the wrong religion, colour, language, gender, politics. Again, in the midst of and despite so much pain and uncertainty, people are acting to improve things, speaking out although at risk; choosing to act rather than passively accepting the status quo. They are creating hope in what might look to us like impossible situations.
And what are we doing with our abundance, with our security, with our blessings. I think our first act is to give thanks at the tables where we find ourselves, banquets of food and spirit(s), to look with wonder on our lives, to turn from negativity to delight and appreciation, to cherish each other and the ways in which we are connected. The first chapter of the letter of James says that religion that is authentic calls us to and from the table, both acts of love, both acts of faith. People are encouraged to act on their faith, not simply contemplate their theology, or good fortune, or blessedness. Gratitude is a process that begins with appreciation, then recognizes that the cup is not just full, but running over. Then we are called to employ our hope, our assets, our skills, our privilege in the work of sharing blessings.
I cannot look at my grandchildren without thinking how I want all the children of the world, to have clean drinking water, to feel safe, to be proud of who and how they are. I want to do what I can to turn away violence and discrimination and injustice. I want to be a person who promotes peace and joy, not out of a sense of duty but because I have so much of all of this that I want to share it with others. May your hearts be broken and healed in love, both in the receiving and in the giving.
Here is my prayer
O Wise and Only One, how carefully you made us.
We are blue clay streaked with colour, full of divine radiance;
after the molding, after the fire, earth yet open to be filled.
Our days are but a moment through which your breath passes, sanctifying body and soul.
Burst from our hearts, Lover and Friend, unite us to one another like forests sharing sunshine and rain, water and wine, holiness gleaming through our tears.