- Thank you, God for the times You have said “no.” They have helped me depend on You so much more.
- Thank you, God, for unanswered prayer. It reminds me that You know what’s best for me, even when my opinion differs from Yours.
- Thank You, Lord, for the things you have withheld from me. You have protected me from what I may never realize.
- Thank You, God, for the doors You have closed. They have prevented me from going where You would rather not have me go.
- Thank you, Lord, for the physical pain You’ve allowed in my life. It has helped me more closely relate to Your sufferings on my behalf.
- Thank you, Lord, for the alone times in my life. Those times have forced me to lean in closer to You.
- Thank you, God, for the uncertainties I’ve experienced. They have deepened my trust in You.
- Thank You, Lord, for the times You came through for me when I didn’t even know I needed a rescue.
- Thank You, Lord, for the losses I have experienced. They have been a reminder that You are my greatest gain.
- Thank You, God, for the tears I have shed. They have kept my heart soft and mold-able.
- Thank You, God, for the times I haven’t been able to control my circumstances. They have reminded me that You are sovereign and on the throne.
- Thank You, God, for those people in my life whom You have called home to be with You. Their absence from this earth keeps my heart longing for heaven.
- Thank You, God, that I have an inheritance in the heavenly places…something that this world can never steal from me and I could never selfishly squander.
- Thank You, God, for the greatest gift You could ever give me: forgiveness through Your perfect Son’s death on the cross on my behalf.
- Thank You, God, for the righteousness You credited toward me, through the death and resurrection of Jesus. It’s a righteousness I could never earn or attain on my own.
- Thank You, Father, that You know me, You hear me, and You see my tears. Remind me through difficult times that You are God, You are on the throne, and You are eternally good.
- And thank You, Lord, not only for my eternal salvation, but for the salvation You afford every day of my life as You save me from myself, my foolishness, my own limited insights, and my frailties in light of Your power and — Cindy McMenamin
Grateful for each hand we hold
Gathered round this table.
From far and near we travel home,
Blessed that we are able.
Grateful for this sheltered place
With light in every window,
Saying welcome, welcome, share this feast
Come in away from sorrow. Continue reading “Thanksgiving Song …”
The American Declaration of Independence says we have an “unalienable right” to the pursuit of happiness. God created us to be happy and joyful “in this world and the next,” and Jesus says the same several times in John 14- 17. The only difference between the two is that any happiness that is demanded from life never becomes happiness because it is too narcissistically and self-consciously pursued. The “joy the world cannot give” (John 14:27) always comes as a gift to those who wait for it, expect it and make room for it inside themselves. The first is self-assertion, the second is self-surrender. The first is taking; the second is receiving. The two entirely different human dynamics. You do not catch a butterfly by chasing it. You sit still and it alights on your shoulder. Then is chooses you. That is true happiness.
— Richard Rohr from Preparing for Christmas
Giving and Receiving
This prayer is based on the scriptural imperative to give of what we have received. Our gifts are recalled and named so we can see our abundance. We then respond with our willingness to share this abundance with others … Continue reading “Advent Day 27: The Gift of Christmas …”
The word kindness has a gentle sound that seems to echo the presence of compassionate goodness. When someone is kind to you, you feel understood and seen. There is no judgment or harsh perception directed toward you. Kindness has gracious eyes; it is not small-minded or competitive; it wants nothing back for itself. Kindness strikes a resonance with the depths of your own heart; it also suggests that your vulnerability, though somehow exposed, is not taken advantage of; rather, it has become an occasion for dignity and empathy. Kindness casts a different light, an evening light that has the depth of color and patience to illuminate what is complex and rich in difference.
Despite all the darkness, human hope is based on the instinct that at the deepest level of reality some intimate kindness holds sway.
— John O’Donohue from To Bless the Space Between Us
If you trust in Nature, in what is simple in Nature, in the small Things that hardly anyone sees and that can so suddenly become huge, immeasurable; if you have this love for what is humble and try very simply, as someone who serves, to win the confidence of what seems poor: then everything will become easier for you, more coherent and somehow more reconciling, not in your conscious mind perhaps, which stays behind, astonished, but in your innermost awareness, awakeness, and knowledge. You are so young, so much before all beginning, and I would like to beg you, dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer. Perhaps you do carry within you the possibility of creating and forming, as an especially blessed and pure way of living; train yourself for that but take whatever comes, with great trust, and as long as it comes out of your will, out of some need of your innermost self, then take it upon yourself, and don’t hate anything.
— Rainer Maria Rilke from Letters to a Young Poet
You keep us waiting.
You, the God of all time,
Want us to wait for the right time in which to discover
Who we are, where we must go,
Who will be with us, and what we must do.
So, thank you … for the waiting time. Continue reading “Advent Day 06: You Keep Us Waiting, Looking, Loving …”
What’s enough? Countless times I’ve watched the sun rise like God’s tender mercy to gently lift the dark blanket from the earth, and countless more times I’ve watched the sun set in such a splendiferous farewell that it must reflect the fringe on God’s robe. I’ve seen the sky define blue and endless. I’ve watched rivers run to the sea, full as life runs to God. I’ve felt the sea roll in on the eternal note of mystery and assurance. Continue reading “Responses to the Mystery of God’s Presence (Thanksgiving Meditation) …”
Every night before I go to sleep
I say out loud
Three things that I’m grateful for,
All the significant, insignificant
Extraordinary, ordinary stuff of my life.
It’s a small practice and humble,
And yet, I find I sleep better
Holding what lightens and softens my life
Ever so briefly at the end of the day. Continue reading “Three Gratitudes …”
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.
— Melody Beattie
But what we do know, from our own experience and the experience of history, is that photographs can change the course of things, turn one’s head, alter one’s thoughts, enlighten one’s darkness. To shoot with that awareness, to know our images, made of light, can contribute light—that is the true joy of photography. Continue reading “Eyes of the Heart: Photography as Contemplative Practice …”