“… I walk in thanksgiving … for the splendor of autumn and the rocky peaks …” ~ Marianites of Holy Angels, Thanksgiving gathering
More lockdowns are being ordered in America and across the globe due to surging COVID … all with the intention to prevent/curb the spread while also ensuring the health and wellbeing of all.
So, in the midst of these deeply troubling times how do we find peace, equanimity? As the I Ching wisely reminds us that “Trying times bring us the gift of showing where our devotion to proper principles ends.” Meeting the COVID crisis is almost demanding that we pay attention to one of the “proper principles” : be present to what is …
Turns out one powerful way to be present to what is … is to be grateful .. as Brother David Steindl-Rast reminds us: “… The essence of being grateful… is accepting what is …” and that “Being grateful is being in the now. That may seem obvious, but we need to remind ourselves.”
This reminder is useful at any time but is particularly pertinent now … and tomorrow is Thanksgiving in USA … and despite the current challenges we face, we can pause and find reasons to be grateful (most will be doing so very consciously as part of the Thanksgiving celebration) … so, here’s a prayer to deepen our “walk in gratitude” from a past Thanksgiving gathering of Marianites of Holy Angels … and if this resonates for you then consider “practicing” it in your life …
“If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough” ~ Meister Eckhart
Thanksgiving: Prayer Of Gratitude
I walk in thanksgiving, for the sunlit years of childhood,
for warm winds and singing birds,
for laughter and discovery and the gift of wonder,
and because I walk in thanksgiving, I WALK IN BELIEF.
I walk in thanksgiving, for the years of growing awareness of life,
of my own self as one among many selves,
fashioning my strength reaching out and up,
for the experience of growth through uncertainty,
the risk of life, of love, of liberty…
and because I walk in thanksgiving, I WALK IN TRUST.
I walk in thanksgiving, for your friendship and the gift of prayer,
for the splendor of autumn and the rocky peaks,
for music and poetry and the song of the world,
for the intensity of life,
for challenges and delight…
and because I walk in thanksgiving, I WALK IN JOY.
I walk in thanksgiving, for life that comes not as a whole,
but in little pieces called people;
for tenderness and strength,
for gentleness and warmth,
for weakness and pain,
for laughter and courage,
for the risk of life,
and because I walk in thanksgiving, I WALK IN LOVE.
I WALK IN THANKSGIVING,
for faith and hope,
for joy and love,
and because I walk in thanksgiving, I WALK IN GOD.
~~ Marianites of Holy Angels, Thanksgiving gathering
Being Together in a Sudden Strangeness
One of the key triggers for gratitude is to pause … which naturally increases the possibility for us to “see what is here – now” … and it’s safe to say that pausing is almost always a great, first step in any encounter … and in the context of “meeting/navigating” COVID we can invite, cultivate, and deepen pause by asking certain fundamental questions: Katherine Stiles – a Cambridge based therapist and spiritual director – suggests that “… We will find a new normal. But for now, we have to step back in order to care for each other. The time is now. …” and in that stepping back she further suggests we contemplate certain questions:
What is being asked of us as we confront this global crisis, which is also a global opportunity to reset?
What is being asked of us as we contemplate right action in such crazy times?
What would it look like if we took a breath, hunkered down and stopped for a few precious moments to “all be together in a sudden strangeness”?
What would it look like if we just kept still? Just for a bit.
… while reflecting on Pablo Neruda’s poem …
Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still
for once on the face of the earth,
let’s not speak in any language;
let’s stop for a second,
and not move our arms so much.
It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines;
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.
Fishermen in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would not look at his hurt hands.
Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victories with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.
What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about…
If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with
Now I’ll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.
~~ Pablo Neruda
And, in this time of increasing division and hatred, we can choose to be bold – with open hearts – and find the unpredictable gifts that come from inclusion and diversity … as Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. reminds us:
“Ever present God, you called us to be in relationship with one another and promised to dwell wherever two or three are gathered. In our community, we are many different people; we come from many different places, have many different cultures. Open our hearts that we may be bold in finding the riches of inclusion and the treasures of diversity among us …” ~
We can further deepen the gift of our “oneness” through prayers from the Native American/American Indian tradition … prayers that are infused with the wisdom of “The Great Spirit” expressed through Mother Earth …
The Sacred Seven Prayers
O Great Spirit, who art before all else and who dwells in every object,
in every person and in every place, we cry unto Thee.
We summon Thee from the far places into our present awareness.
O Great Spirit of the North, who gives wings to the waters of the air
and rolls the thick snowstorm before Thee,
Who covers the Earth with a sparkling crystal carpet
above whose deep tranquility every sound is beautiful.
Temper us with strength to withstand the biting blizzards,
yet make us thankful for the beauty which follows
and lies deep over the warm Earth in its wake.
O Great Spirit of the East, the land of the rising Sun,
Who holds in Your right hand the years of our lives
and in Your left the opportunities of each day.
Brace us that we may not neglect our gifts
nor lose in laziness the hopes of each day
and the hopes of each year.
O Great Spirit of the South, whose warm breath of compassion
melts the ice that gathers round our hearts,
whose fragrance speaks of distant springs and summer days,
dissolve our fears, melt our hatreds,
kindle our love into flames of true and living realities.
Teach us that he who is truly strong is also kind,
he who is wise tempers justice with mercy,
he who is truly brave matches courage with compassion.
O Great Spirit of the West, the land of the setting Sun,
with Your soaring mountains and free, wide rolling prairies,
bless us with knowledge of the peace which follows purity of striving
and the freedom which follows like a flowing robe
in the winds of a well-disciplined life.
Teach us that the end is better than the beginning
and that the setting sun glorifies not in vain.
O Great Spirit of the heavens, in the day’s infinite blue
and amid the countless stars of the night season,
remind us that you are vast, that you are beautiful
and majestic beyond all of our knowing or telling,
but also that you are no further from us than
the tilting upwards of our heads and the raising of our eyes.
O Great Spirit of Mother Earth beneath our feet, Master of metals,
Germinator of seeds and the Storer of the Earth’s unreckoned resources,
help us to give thanks unceasingly for Your present bounty.
O Great Spirit of our souls, burning in our heart’s yearning
and in our innermost aspirations,
speak to us now and always so that we may be aware
of the greatness and goodness of Your gift of life
and be worthy of this priceless privilege of living.
~ Noel Knockwood, Elder
And in the spirit of deep gratitude to the ones who are indeed ensuring our health and well being …
As we’ve done since the COVID crisis began … we want to honor and highlight the “heroes” that continue to ensure our health and safety in the midst of the pandemic: Go Fund Me has organized many campaigns targeted towards the COVID-19 relief efforts. All of these campaigns are worthy of our attention … but for now we want to highlight TWO critical ones that we are supporting personally and also as Stillness Speaks (through donations):
We are all facing financial challenges but IF your situation allows you to donate and help then …
… please visit Frontline Responders Fund’s Go Fund Me page … and help deliver crucial supplies to these frontline responders …
… and/or visit America’s Food Fund Go Fund Me page and help feed the neighbors in need.
And, we again, express our deepest gratitude to a) the COVID-19 Frontline Responders (all the healthcare professionals – doctors, nurses, hospital/medical-services staff – firefighters, law enforcement, volunteers, and any/all the people involved in keeping the “system-at-large” functioning for ALL of us) … and b) Go Fund Me for organizing America’s Food Fund to feed the needy.
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May you find time to keep still … while gathering together in sudden strangeness … and …
May you infuse the spirit of gratitude in all your interactions …and … bring more love and compassion in your daily rhythm … and …
May you remain safe and healthy as you navigate these troubling times.