We are in the third week of our exploration of spirituality title, Space for God. What an awesome experience this is turning out to be. I look forward to gathering with the group, am awed at their insights and find that I am learning so much. This group is a true blessing.
So this week is about gratitude, and the assignment is to list things daily for which we are grateful.
This past week I have been grateful for the group in the spirituality study. I have been grateful for a wise man who spoke about people acting from their fears, it gave me a lot of perspective as I watched the ongoing Supreme Court nomination hearings. It also caused me some alarm as I saw the depth of fear and hatred and intolerance and even prejudice and I had to stop watching to get some God-like perspective.
I am deeply grateful for the God-like perspective that I gained as I worked on the sermon for Sunday which traces the story of Esther and her role in challenging powerful men and standing up for the rights of the oppressed and marginalized people who were targeted because of race, and religion. What is so clear in the unfolding of that story is that God is present, acting in the background even though we never see him acting or hear him speaking.
So that leads me to being grateful for God, who always has and will inhabit the prayers of his people. I am grateful for God who is always watchful over his people. I am grateful for faith which makes it possible to be joyful in the midst of of tragic and or oppressive circumstances.
I am grateful for the strong women who have been a part of my life, who have prayed for me and with me and whose wisdom has shown me the many ways in which God has filled my days. And I am grateful that I can contact them at any time, with the confidence that they will pray for what I struggle with; and grateful that I can do the same for them.
And then this morning as I read an article about a study of how men behave to prevent sexual abuse (they don’t think about it) opposed to how women behave to prevent physical or sexual abuse (that’s a long list from how to hold keys, to checking the back seat of the car to constant vigilance of the environment around them), I was hopeful that this important discussion will lead to greater safety for all people, not just women.
The article reminded me of a time when I was travelling alone and the woman at the desk upgraded and changed my room at no charge so that my door was in line with the view from the security camera and she could keep an eye on me; because, in her words, she needed to make sure that women travelling alone were safe. I am grateful for her, not just for how she cared for me but how she does that for all women who stay in that hotel.
So that of course reminded me of God, who keeps an eye on all of us, all the time and again I am so grateful.
And today I am grateful for hope. I see governments around the world, reacting to the pressure from other governments to do the right thing. Regardless of why, they are starting to do at least some things that will work for the justice of their people. Even in the midst of growing intolerance, racism, sexism, and xenophobia I see people taking a stand and speaking up for what is right and that gives me a lot of hope that maybe things are not as grim as they look.
I am grateful for my daughter who is raising the three boys to respect people, all people, regardless of gender, race, religion or sexual orientation. It speaks to the hope I have for the future that as she and other mothers raise children who are respectful and caring, that once again God’s hand will be seen in the final unfolding of events.
Again I am filled with thoughts of the unseen actions of God in the story of Esther, which only got worse and worse and only at the last minute did the circumstances for the people change. I am reminded that we all need to keep moving forward with God, even when it seems hopeless.
I know that this journey of gratefulness is a sign of a mind that goes off everywhere and I am grateful for that as well, because all those fleeting thoughts fill my prayers and pondering with a great variety of feelings, hopes and expectations; and above all because it causes me to focus my sight again and again on God.
With all those thoughts swirling in my mind, I turn to the second part of this week’s assignment: to write a prayer poem.
For me, poetry is challenging. It is the one thing that I want to write that I struggle with, and so I am grateful for modern prayer, which is evocative and descriptive but need not rhyme nor conform to meter.
You are strength in weakness
hope in despair
joy in sorrow
Seeing you, feeling you, knowing you, following you fills me with confidence
Ground beneath my feet
Wind beneath my wings
Power of my beating heart
Breath of my being
I give you my deepest thanks
my heartfelt love
my confident sighs of hope
You are joy, love, hope, power, gentleness, compassion, strength
for me, in me and all around me
I go forth with you, now and forever. Amen.