It occurs to me that after asking everyone to write a sentence or two about what they were grateful for in the weeks leading to Thanksgiving, we never talked about what people wrote. Of the 40 plus “gratitude leaves”, the vast majority described families. Grandchildren, both the ones here and the ones expected were given special mention. A couple of people mentioned food, several mentioned the UUSR and the friendships and spirituality they have found here. Many mentioned their health and the health of their loved ones. Typical of UUs all over, the ocean, sunshine and the natural world were given high praise; it is where so many of us find solace and inspiration, comfort and the chance to feel the connection to all living things.
There were a few surprises, including “shoes”.
Shoes are important, and many folks around the world would consider owning even one pair of good leather shoes a tremendous and shocking luxury. I am glad someone was grateful for shoes; we should all remember what a privilege it is to have the money to buy them, to be able to choose from a huge selection, and to know that when one pair falls apart, we can probably get another.
Perhaps my favorite text was “Life as we know it.” What a wonderful attitude this person has!
This past year, it has been hard for me to accept life as it is. Between the election of someone unfit for the office of President, and his choices for Cabinet members, to the natural disasters besetting the globe, terrorist attacks everywhere, and racial tensions being ignited rather than improved, I have found it difficult to be accepting. And yet I understand that acceptance is the key to good living.
We must accept things as they are, no matter what. There is only one way we are going to be able to change the things we can. And that is by accepting things as they are. If we don’t accept the death of our beloved, if we don’t accept the fact that we’ve been fired, if we don’t accept the diagnosis we’ve been given, there is no chance to work through these things. Grief is how we come to accept our losses. We either surrender to our deep losses, or we never push through them.
We either accept our new reality, or we live partial and superficial lives. We either accept our reality, or we waste our time longing for the good old days. My grandmother used to tell me that the good old days weren’t that good. Let’s try to act as if the good old days are the ones we are living in, right now. No matter what is happening. We are alive and on this earth. We did nothing to deserve being born. And the world owes us nothing . This sounds harsh, but it’s the truth. The truth is, it is a blessing, pure and simple, to be alive and to be grateful, for “Life, as we know it.” Happy New Year! May life, as we know it, bring good cheer, good health, and communities like this one. And may we remember to be grateful every day. Happy New Year!
See you at 4 Cleaves Street~