What would it mean to live the life of gratitude? What would it be like to walk out of our homes each day grateful for every gift in our lives?
Waking up, we would give thanks for our houses, the shelter above our heads each night; warmth to keep us through cold November evenings. We might be thankful for the love in our homes, or our favorite things – our music, our books, the art that gives us pleasure. We might be grateful for the people in our lives, both near and far away, and the reminders we keep with us of their presence. We might be grateful for the animals who give to us companionship and joy. We might give thanks for food, for clean water, and for hot coffee.
Stepping out into the world, we would open ourselves to a bounty of blessings – the stunning array of nature’s glory in turning leaves, the brisk air that awakens us, the smell of Autumn. We would be grateful for neighbors, who have shown us kindness, for their children who sing with the spirit of life, for the many ways we have to get places and do things.
We would be grateful for work to do when we are employed, for support and assistance when we are not, for good health and good medicine, for the care of a loving community. We would give thanks for our feelings – laughter that keeps spirits vibrant, tears that remind us what is most important in our hearts. We would give thanks for the play of ideas in minds that are nature’s most profound miracle.
It is hard to live this way all the time. Disappointments draw us away from the blessings, hard suffering gives no reason for gratitude, and the news of the day is often hard to hear. But it is not difficult to live this way some of the time, and it is worth making the effort. When we do, we awake not only to the extraordinary, but to the simple, ordinary blessings we take for granted. Many of these blessings are people, who deserve to be thanked. Others are qualities of life itself. When we choose to look at the world through grateful eyes, what we see may astonish and inspire us.
What would it mean to live the life of gratitude?
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A Prayer for Transgender Day of Remembrance
On this day set apart for memory,
we remember and honor the struggles and the sacrifices
of those who have come before us,
leading us to equality, dignity, and justice.
We remember and honor those who have suffered discrimination or violence,
those whose lives have been lost,
those whose bodies or spirits have been wounded,
those who were made to feel less than whole,
less than beautiful,
less than they are.
We remember and honor
the gifts of wisdom and courage
brought forth by ancestors and companions in spirit.
We remember and honor those who walk proudly,
who love themselves and others,
who teach by their being,
and who reach to help others along the way.
We remember and honor friends, neighbors
and those we do not yet know,
revering the wholeness and dignity
within every human soul.
and every day,
may all of us,
transgender and cisgender alike,
dedicate ourselves unflinchingly
to respect for every human being,
and to the transforming power of love.
and blessed be.
– Rev. Dan Schatz
November 20, 2013
Transgender Day of Remembrance
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Posted in Music, Politics, Public Life, Spirit, tagged A. L. Lloyd, Cokie Roberts, pacifism, peace, Seamen's Hymn, Utah Phillips, Veteran's Day on November 11, 2013|
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Note – the video doesn’t play directly from the blog, but does from YouTube. Click the link and watch it; you’ll be glad you did.
Veteran’s Day can be a challenging observation for those of us in the peace movement. As a committed pacifist, I deplore all war. The very existence of armed conflict is, in my view, the most colossal and self-defeating waste of resources ever devised by humanity. At the same time, I recognize the sacrifices of women and men who have gone to war – some voluntarily and some not so. I’ve seen minds damaged and families destroyed by the aftermath of battle. I’ve seen good people walking around with physical and emotional injuries that will never show. And I cannot help but honor these women and men, not because of the injuries, but because of the sacrifices they made out of love of country. I may not agree with the need for those sacrifices, but I surely honor the people who made them.
Utah Phillips once said that the way wars can end is when soldiers start talking about what it was really like. He has said that his time in Panmunjom immediately after the treaty was “absolute life amid the ruins.”
On today’s Morning Edition, National Public Radio’s political commentator Cokie Roberts talked about the effect of fewer veterans serving in Congress. “You see it in debates about taking the United States into military actions where you don’t hear the voices of those very experienced veterans.” I wondered how eager politicians would be to enter wars if more of them understood it better.
I’ve always appreciated A. L. Lloyd’s Seamen’s Hymn. In its brief simplicity it captures both the honor of sacrifice and the cruelty of war:
Come all you bold seamen
Wherever you’re bound
And always let Nelson’s
Proud memory go round.
And pray that the wars
And the tumult shall cease
For the greatest of gifts
Is a sweet lasting peace.
May the Lord put an end
To these cruel old wars
And bring peace and contentment
To all our brave tars!
There are several videos of performances of “The Seamen’s Hymn,” but to my ear this recording from a pub sing captures it best. This is how the song should be sung – by the people, often and loudly.
On this Veteran’s Day, may we honor sacrifices made in war, recognize its cruelty, and join together in prayer for the greatest of gifts – a sweet lasting peace.
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