Sunday, November 14, 2010

Quakers and Gratitude

Life is hard. Gratitude eases that burden. It knows no limits and broadens life from the inside out. Being grateful is an important spiritual practice for me, and one that seems to take Friends by surprise at times I notice. However, I’ve learned I need to see beyond myself through noticing life’s joys and blessings and even by seeing the beautiful in the ugly if need be. It is God in our midst.

A big part of being Quaker to me, is the freedom to express myself as led- what the Light in my heart is illuminating. I find cause to give thanks in that alone. At times, I feel Friends have good news and a great opportunity to speak it. I have been gifted so much, and chances are that you have too, if you are sitting at your computer reading this today. Even in the stillness and silence practice of Friends we are free to contemplate, seek guidance, give thanks, and yes, even praise! That is a treasure in our fast paced world of today.

So often I notice we as Friends focus on the entire ill in the world, and we should unite in the cause of overcoming much ill with good. But in wishing to remake the world, it seems we can get very serious and not lift our heads up from these injustices. I think experiencing that ‘inner nudge’ toward doing good in the world is one of the most important of the avenues of religious experience, keeping in mind that one does not dwell on good works for personal gain. However, I think daily gratitude is some thing that helps to see and recognize the God within and working in our daily lives. Expressing that, for me, lifts my soul and becomes contagious when I experience others who do the same. Perhaps it is a balance. It need not be all about feeling which is fluid, but a natural symptom of the devotion of the heart.

Obviously, we are not all the same. We ought to be part of the world and give back to God for it. We should strive for peace and betterment today. But somewhere in the mix of it all, it feeds me when the Light illuminates sparks of joy- surprises and the grace of God daily. This daily love affair with God, naturally then gives cause to see the sacred in each ordinary day. The truth is, I am looking quite earnestly amongst Quakers for gratitude and joy sparks. I think there is room to proclaim our thankfulness. Our roots are Christian and I am finding many stand firmly in those roots still, and their spirituality grows strong, but all of us are able to practice offering thanks. Every little glimmer of Light changes me and I believe for those around me. This daily giving thanks and expressing gratitude in meeting also seems logical and appropriate. Gratitude makes sense of our past and connects it to today. It brings more peace for today and creates more hope for tomorrow. To me, that sounds very Friendly. So, I continue my gratitude search and my own practice of journaling them, and on the darkest of days, God makes my heart glad.

George Fox quoted this verse in one of his journals: “Thou hast put gladness in my heart.” Psalm 4:7. He continued on to write: “Praise, honor, and glory be to the Lord of heaven and earth! Lord of peace, Lord of joy! Thy countenance maketh my heart glad. Lord of glory, Lord of mercy, Lord of strength, Lord of life, and of power over death, and Lord of lords, the King of kings!”

I think George had his head on straight when it came to praise, which is so often a lost art today. I want to diligently remember who to give it to. Every month of the year lends itself to continuing the count. So, I have scribbled in my journal and given thanks for so many things lately. Won’t you consider joining me? Here are a few from my page this past week...

Brilliant leaves
Two dogs in my window
Find my childhood bible again
My treasure box of love
Holding hands watching movies
Tired Husband reading scripture
Giddy girls anticipating possible new life here with their bunnies
A warm kitchen and help in it
Homegrown music on the harp and guitar
The stately pines out my bedroom window
My Grandmother who just turned 93
Old wooden benches and floorboards
The renewing gift of silence
Every new morning

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Just from my Spiritual Journal....

As a dreamer, at my window
just in time to see
a gust of autumn
spray it's brilliance,
to reveal hidden corners
and brush off dusty dreams.

A singular leaf floats down.

That is when You breeze by
and I remember to choose joy-
to keep the door of my heart on a crack
and the key upon the shelf again.
I open the clouds like curtains,
as Your Love shines through.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Wednesday Photos

"If we better studied and understood God's creation, this would do a great deal to caution and direct us in our use of it. For how could we find the impudence to abuse the world if we were seeing the great Creator stare us in the face through each and every part of it?" ~ William Penn