In our spiritual community we have a consistent practice, each time we gather, of expressing our gratitude out loud. It creates a ground of positive energy from which we can be nourished, and from which we can draw when it comes time to express our deepest, most profound concerns. Prayers that are long on asking and short on thanking seem awfully hollow.
I’m not certain, however, that we have mastered the Pauline art of giving thanks “in everything.” There is a sugary version of it that I’m just not buying, like when people try too hard or too quickly to submerge their anger and bitterness in a desire to live in the familiar comfort of positive spin. Thankfulness is never about spin. It is the response of human tension to divine activity, much like the sound of a violin, when the masterful bow is drawn across its taut strings.
Rumi’s “The Guest House” is one of my sacred scriptures, for it speaks to me of the full range of human experience and emotion, including depression or meanness. It reminds us to “welcome and entertain them all,” because each has been sent as a “guide from beyond.”
There is a lot of meanness showing up at our doors each morning. It is a temptation to slam the door shut and hope that it goes away. But it won’t. The only true way to handle it is to invite it across the threshold for a cup of tea, with the full understanding that the welcome has brief shelf-life.
There now, I’ve heard you. Thank you for sharing. Kindly leave now.
Were the human family not called upon by the unwelcome guests of injustice, greed, and hatred, we might never have seen the subsequent rise of truth, generosity, and heart-felt activism that is pouring forth all around us–by necessity.
So, this Thanksgiving, we don’t pause to give thanks only for blessings of home and hearth and harvest, but also to welcome a world that is none too rosy at the moment. Gratitude means that instead of cowering within our fears, we stand in the present moment with a strong measure of grace.
We welcome all that comes our way, and eventually some of those things will feel welcomed to leave us. I’m pretty sure of it.