Thursday, May 07, 2015

Thankful Thursday

Today is The National Day of Prayer here in the United States.
A day for the nation to pray. For peace. For justice. For wisdom.
For healing. For forgiveness. For equality. For unity.
I sat with some people I know and some people I didn't know earlier today to pray.
To remember those in need, those who are hungry, those who are in power as well.
For the unemployed. For the homeless. For the broken and sorrowful.
We also spent time giving thanks for many of the blessings we have received.

The blessings of the beautiful country we live in.
Family and friends and fun and fellowship.
The church community, the neighborhood community.
Our President and other national leaders as well as local leaders.
Doctors, nurses, teachers, and others who serve.
Police officers, firefighters, ambulance attendants and medics.
Places to live. Clothes to wear. Food to eat.
Water to drink, to clean with, to bathe in, and to swim in.

I am grateful that when I left that time and space of prayer, I had the chance to go downstairs and be the answer to some of those prayers by spending time with guests of the Loaves and Fishes pantry. I am enormously grateful for the businesses, the churches, the individuals that donate tons of food for distribution to our neighbors in need. I am grateful for the courage of men and women to ask for help and for the grace with which they receive the food. I am grateful to attend a church and be in relationship with people who are committed to serving the community, the city and the world.

I am grateful for the time I spent in the minivan with Kristiana on Tuesday afternoon. On the way home from picking her up at college, we found ourselves in more than an hour of "stand still and turn off your engine" traffic in the mountains of North Carolina. Rather than banging on the steering wheel in frustration, I began a conversation with my dear daughter about the Sunday School class we will be teaching together on Sunday. It will be called, "Stacking Stones and Breaking Bread: In Remembrance of Me." We will be talking about the memorial stones the people of Israel collected and stacked on various occasions in the Old Testament and the ritual of communion, the breaking of bread that Jesus - and how both of those acts are meant to point us back to the goodness and grace and providence and love of God. We will talk about other things we can do and look at and think about in remembrance of the God who loves us.

I am grateful that we were able to talk through the Bible passages we've chosen and come up with questions to ask even in stand still traffic. I am grateful that at one point we were laughing so hard that the driver in the car next to us looked over at us. Yes, we can laugh even in this situation.

I am grateful for the chance to teach a class with my daughter.
I am grateful for the chance to reconnect with her after the end of her school year.
I am grateful for the fact that she cooked dinner tonight - she's an adventurous cook.

I am grateful for the warmth of spring, for roses and irises in bloom.
I am grateful for turtles and squirrels and birds.
I am grateful for cool morning air, for quiet mornings, for long walks before the neighborhood buzzes with activity and noise.

I am grateful that I didn't scream when I saw not one, but two snakes in my neighbor's mailbox.
I am enormously grateful that I have never seen a snake in my mailbox.

I am grateful for questions because they send me out in search of answers.
I am grateful for doubts because they prompt me to more deeply consider my faith in God.
I am grateful for lonely times because they remind me to value those who walk my life journey with me.
I am grateful for darkness too, because it deepens my longing for the light.
I am grateful for scars too, because they remind me of falls and battles and victories won.
I am grateful for silence too, because it sharpens my ability to hear the still small voice.
I am grateful for rain too, because it slows our pace and reminds us that water is the elixir of life.
I am grateful for tears too. And the friends who allow me to shed my tears so freely.

I am grateful for Moral Monday marches.
I am grateful for peaceful protests.
I am grateful for second and third and fourth chances for forgiveness and reconciliation.
I am grateful for the countless people who are working for peace behind the scenes, in schools, in communities, in churches, and in other public gathering places.
I am grateful for the thoughtfulness and wisdom of my friend, Launa. Look at the piece she wrote for The Atlantic about her students and a planned trip to Baltimore. What a gift to read an article about how we can talk about these very difficult issues with young people and encouraging them to form their own opinions while sharing ours as well.
I am grateful for the audacity of hope - hope for peace, hope for life, hope for love.

Thanks be to God.

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