We are in unsettling times. Times of pandemic, protests, injustice, invasions and violence. Soaring prices, housing crisis, food insecurity and supply chain breakdowns. Lies and stupidity abound. Fatigue and burnout following suit.
We are tired, cranky, irritable and run down. We are suffering from information overload and emotional trauma. We feel guilt for our own comforts or minor discomforts. It is, in my part of the world, cold and snowy and lifeless. Or slushy and windy and uncomfortable.
This is quite a negative way to start a post, you think. So why is this post titled In gratitude? When the heaviness overwhelms, what am I to do? I have to take some action. Can I physically help the people suffering during wars? Maybe I can but maybe I can’t. Not everyone has the same physical or mental resources to do so. Is it contradictory to say I must take action but also acknowledge that I may not be able to take action? No, because there is worldly action and there is spiritual action.
The words “thoughts and prayers” have been so dismissed or blatantly reviled in social media some people are afraid to reply to anyone in this way. While I agree those words are sometimes used dismissively as I get a sense the person will never think about what requires those thoughts and prayers again in their lives. Many people do actually take the time and do the action of praying for the person or the situation. Prayers are actions. I can’t jump on a plane and do this or do that across the world or save the planet or….I could go on and on. It’s overwhelming.
I had lost my spiritual connection and consequently, my faith in spiritual action. I never gave up on my quest for a connection to God though and I am finding that connection to be returning and growing stronger slowly but surely. Back to my point…Once I do what I can in the physical world, I believe I must take spiritual action too. One should not replace the other. They need to work side by side with each other. Donate, pick up garbage, protest, whatever I can do but also need to follow up with prayer. Turning over the situation to God once I’ve done all I can. By joining the millions in prayer, I am giving that added strength to it. Prayers can work. Sometimes they don’t but that’s for another day. Even if the prayer isn’t answered the way I want for whatever reason, I am handing the situation over to God. When I am overwhelmed I can not come up with creative solutions. Surrendering the situation to God’s hands helps me release the anxiety and allows me to get refueled by that release. Tomorrow I may get inspiration for something else I can physically do to help. Or I may need to rest further to get that inspiration. That’s ok too.
What else can I do? I can be in gratitude for what I do have. I don’t mean this to sound flippant. It is quite the opposite. While others in the world suffer greatly, I can and should be grateful for my life. Not to add salt to the wounds of the suffering but to express my gratitude of their suffering reminding me how fragile life is. One day it may be my turn again to suffer. I try not to take anything for granted. I am deeply grateful for what is good in my life. While nothing is perfect I am grateful for my health, my home, my true relationships, my safety, my food. All this could be taken away in a blink of an eye as it has for many around the world. I have suffered many of my own losses. Yet, I am in a place of deep appreciation, currently. I catch myself breathing in deeply the goodness in my life, that moment I had a good laugh, the moment I felt deep love for someone, that moment I perceived beauty. I Thank God for those moments. I Thank God for giving me the ability to love, to appreciate beauty and senses to experience this world. It can be a very ugly world but it can also be a beautiful one. I am responsible for my corner of the world. I try to make it as beautiful and peaceful as possible and what I can’t do, I give it over to God in prayer And in gratitude. It’s not easy but with practice it is getting easier to surrender.
I am currently knitting a blanket for our home. When I sit and knit blankets in particular,I get an immediate physiological reaction. I feel comforted, protected, warmed and loved.
With this thought, I will say good night. May you all have something good in your lives to be in gratitude for.
I wish you peace and grace and a warm blanket to cover you.