I wouldn't describe myself as the steriotypical Christian. I'm not even sure I can claim the Christian title in light of all that conjures up these days. But the power of faith as exemplified by the Jesus in the Bible, would aspire too most certainly.
The sermon at church this morning made me think. No, this is not an unusual experience. Most sermons at First Congregational Church Riverside make me think. This one, delivered by our pastor, the Reverend Jane Quandt, had a different prospective on the story of when Jesus and his disciples were in a small boat at sea and a scwall came up. Jesus is asleep and the disciples, apparently afraid of being swamped, wake him. Jesus, a bit perturbed, stands and commands the calms the waters and winds. The disciples were amazed.
Well, I would be amazed too if someone in the same boat as I stood up during a life-threatening storm and was able to simply command the sea be calm, and it was. Jane focussed on the act of Jesus and how the disciples were not only amazed, but afraid of this show of power by someone they had just signed their allegiance too. Power is daunting. Especially what sometimes appears to be "superpower".
But we all have it. We all have the power to rise up and take charge. We can quell any storm, calm any sea, smooth any tsunami. We can if we have the faith of Jesus. Even if we don't perform miracles like Jesus (or Buddha or Mahammed or Krishna) we are the miracle. We have the power within us to be true Christians. We can stand up and seize our power sluffing off the chains of doubt and fear. We have the power to be true to ourselves and to our God. It just takes faith and trust that in exercising our power and doing the right thing, we will be grateful that we did.
The Scripture cited today:
Jesus Stills the Storm
And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. A gale arose on the lake, so great that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him up, saying, ‘Lord, save us! We are perishing!’ And he said to them, ‘Why are you afraid, you of little faith?’ Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a dead calm. They were amazed, saying, ‘What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?’
The city of Vancouver has passed an ordinance that all new construction, including private homes, install levers on all doors rather than doorknobs. Imagine. A house with no doorknobs. I imagine that we would get used to it, but really, no doorknobs? Well, I do know it is not that big a deal. Levers actually are more usable for all people, especially those with physical disabilities. I also imagine it will make it a lot easier for dogs and even cats to open doors...maybe doors they shouldn't, but that's beside the point.
The potential of the demise of doorknobs (probably realistically not in any of our lifetimes) made me think about them as I never had before. And since this is a blog about things we are grateful for, I realized I am grateful for doorknobs...at least for things like doorknobs. I am grateful for the things that make our lives easier, better in some ways. How else would we open doors? With levers, I know. Or perhaps pulls. Or maybe just pushing them open and closed, lifting them up and out. Bottom line here, I am grateful, I suppose, not just for doorknobs, but for the ingenuity and inventiveness of humankind. Aren't we something?
So, yes, I am grateful for plain old ordinary brass, glass, wood or ceramic doorknobs. They may be ubiquitous, but an invention the creates a safer and more convenient life for us all, should be given its due. Thank goodness for doorknobs.
Here is a link to the article about the new ordinance in Vancouver for your information:
Day Fourteen. Half way. I guess I could say I am grateful for that. Sometimes it is a bit difficult coming up with something that I am grateful for that seems worth writing about and sharing with you. I want what I write to be inspiring. Other times I want it to be funny. There are times when I want what I share to be challenging. Serious is good. Gratitude should have gravitas. It should also have a lesson. Well, at least that is what I think sometimes when I sit down to my computer and start typing.
One thing that this exercise has done is to get me into thinking more often about the things I am grateful for. But I guess I covered that when I wrote about be mindful. I have given thanks for the usual, but not written about them. That I think will come. There is so much to be thankful for. I do look at things very differently these days. For instance, when I am fixing something to eat for lunch or dinner, I usually turn on the TV for the news. Currently there are stories about the fight over healthcare, the typhoon in the Phillipines, sex scandals in the government (and everywhere else it seems), and such. I think how very lucky I am to be in a safe, warm house with access to food and water and a place to sleep each night. I am so very fortunate. And I think I am taking these things less for granted these days.
For that, I am grateful.
Chaos? Grateful for chaos? Yep, that's what I'm sayin'. I am grateful for chaos....not all the time...but once in a while. Every once in a while the carpet needs to be pulled from under us. Not to necessarily knock us down, but to shake us up...to shake us out of our complacency. Chaos makes us think...well, I know it makes me think. It is unsettling old ideas and beliefs that results in a sort of chaos of the spirit.
Chaos. It can be a blessing in disguise. I can remember times I was feeling rather smug, times when I thought I had it all figured out. Then reality set it and I was plunged into the chaos of confusion and uncertainly. It was the best thing that could have happened...each time it has happened. And I expect it may happen again...although I like to think I have learned from it...at least enough to know that I don't know everything. It fact the only thing I do know for absolute fact is, well, nothing is absolute or sure. That is what living through chaos has done. And for that, I am grateful.
A young friend posted on Facebook this morning that she hates life and for someone to f*** off. I was astonished as this was one young lady I thought pretty much had it together. I have no idea what prompted this statement, but I do know I have felt that way. Coming for the other end of the age spectrum, I could only comment, "ooh. hands folded. experience has told me it does get better." Not probably what she wanted to hear right then. But what I hoped it communicated was, yes, it does suck once in a while. But it really does get better....better with experience. Life does go on. It does drain you of every ounce of vital life energy you have sometimes, but, if you push through, it does get better. Really. If nothing else, experience has taught me that.
Here is why I am grateful for experience. It has taught me that nothing lasts forever, not pain, not joy, not anger, not even passion. What these things do, however, is morph into something else. It is often called experience, but what it really is, is you. You are your experiences. Experience informs what you do everyday, every moment. Without experience, we would be pure stimulus and response running around in a world that is nothing more than a flash in the pan. We learn from our experiences. And if we don't, well, we get to experience them again until one day we look up and realize that we are the sum total of our experiences and how we handle them.
It is up to us every day to interpret what life hands us to grow and to move on. That is why we form relationships, participate in daily activities and reflect and dream. It is up to us. But we are not alone. So I say be grateful for whatever comes your way. It is a lesson, whether it be pleasant or unpleasant, but it is yous to learn. And let experience be the teacher it was meant to be.
I love the alphabet. I love A's and B's and C's. I am entranced by the letters Q and R and G and K. And of course I admire and respect D, E, F, H, I, J, L, M, N, O, P, R, S, T, U, V, W, X and Z. And sometimes Y. Y is quite a lovely letter. I love it sometime angularity and sometime graceful curves with little curly-cues on its tail. I love how it can be written fully above the line when capitalized or dip below the line in cursive script. And the little y is delightfully playful to me.
But why would I say "....and sometimes y"? Think about it. Remember way back in grammar school (or primary school, elementary, lower school, or whatever they call it these days) when you were learning your vowels? They were A E I O U and sometimes Y. Y is quite a versatile letter. Why, (another form of "y"?), Y even speaks spanish, meaning "and" as in Juan y Juanita! You can come to a Y in the road, also known as a fork. It can stand for yeild.
I have to say that I am grateful for the alphabet, and sometimes Y. It is a marvelous creation that helps us communicate. It is fun to write the letters. It can be an artistic endeavor. Calligraphy comes to mind. I am not sure why we restricted ourselves to just 26 letters. Here are two sentences that contain all the letters of the alphabet. They are called "panagrams"
A more comprehensive history of the alphabet can be found here:
Today I am grateful for Y and for ALL the letters of the alphabet, A through Z.
"Former Friends". That says it all. Friends that are no longer friends in your current circle. Friends though, that had a lot to do with forming who you are. Friends, who although they are not longer in your life, taught you something about what it meant to be a friend in spite of no longer being your friend. Former friends.
I am grateful for the friends who no longer are in my life for one reason or another. I look back and know that I contributed to the end of the relationship. These are people I spent a lot of time with. We ran around together to the movies, bowling, plays, just hung out, whatever. But then something changed. Something that had been bothering them about me suddenly came to the fore. It was enough for them to no longer want to be my friend. It caught me by surprise. I won't say it didn't hurt. But I also can't say I wasn't guilty of whatever way I had let them down. Intentional or not, I had not been the friend they wanted. And obviously they were not the friend I thought they were.
And that's okay.
People grow. People change. We evolve. We get stuck. But the amazing thing about former friends is just that: they are formers. They formed a lot of who I am today. They taught me to be more aware of myself and how I come across. I have to admit that in those relationships I was also guilty of tolerating things that I should not have. That, too, is another lesson to be learned from former friends. If something bugs you, it should be addressed. Often it hits on a nerve with yourself on something you do like about yourself. That's a tough one...but an important one. Awareness is the key. And the willingness to learn.
That is why I am grateful for my former friends. They were instrumental in the formation of my character and content today. And truthfully, I still love them as if we were still close. And somehow I like to believe, they feel the same. Just not in the same room.
I am grateful for color. What would my world be like without it? It enhances ever experience, accents every feeling, reflects every mood. It gives life its joie de vivre (joy of life). I know I am so very fortunate to see and feel color.
I recently painted the interior of my home. Years ago I had painted everything white, navajo white to be exact. It was a pleasant, neutral color (or lack of color), that reflected who I was at the time. That's not me any more. I am colorful. Yep, me. The inner artist is emerging. No matter how hard I try to supress it, it will out.
My living room is yellow, happiness, hospitality, light. My dining room is red, hope, passion, happiness. I hear red stimulates the appetite. My den and bedroom are shades of green. Spring, peace, tranquity. My bathroom is blue. Life-giving, good health. What's interesting is the somehow knew these things innately without studying a chart like the one pictured here. This makes be realize we just need to listing to our intuition when coloring our world.
Ultimately, I know that color is indeed one of the things for which I am most grateful. It is one of the ture blessings of life.
It wasn't until I started attending my current church* that I came to understand what All Saints Sunday is about. As I understand at, in Catholic tradition, it is the day we commemorates all those who have attained the beatific vision in Heaven. This I interpret to mean, those who have to named as saints in the church. At my progressive protestant church, we tend to believe all persons who have transitioned from their earthly form into the realms of heaven, can be considered saints...no matter their status or condition here on earth. To us, all can be forgiven, and God welcomes home all his children.
Today I am grateful for all the saints in my life who have passed on, died to this world, and taken up residence in the halls of my memory and chambers of my heart. I am grateful for all they gave me in this life, the things they taught me, shared with me and that gave me insight into who I am today. For me, they are not dead. They are always with me, and I with them. I am grateful that this never fades, never changes, never dies.
In gratitude, I celebrate the day by remembering those saints and pray that I am passing on what they passed to me during this, my life here on earth.
*At First Congregational Church, Riverside-United Church of Christ, we have a tradition of lighting candles of those who have departed this world during the year prior. We also lay upon the communion table mementos and souvenirs representing those we wish to honor. It is a simple yet powerful way of remembering.
Rob McMurray, self described muser extraodinaire.