I woke this last morning of 2013 with my mind full of gratitude. Lists and sub-lists of thanksgiving began to form. Here I offer my small public witness of gratitude for this past year. I want to acknowledge the limits of my mind, knowing that what I remember as I write this is not everything, that January and February are getting short shrift compared to November and December. My apologies – especially to my fellow human companions — for that which I cannot raise up to my consciousness just now.
I give thanks for
- that whole lung-breathing thing, and how it continues so far.
- that whole heart-beating thing, and how it continues so far.
- how for a week in July, I sat in the summer house on Star Island in the early mornings, sometimes with a friend, to meditate. I felt the wind whip around my body. I learned that the universe is breathing me and that sometimes, just sometimes, I can feel it.
- how a friend, bereft at the Florida court system and its exoneration of George Zimmerman, asked that I witness his grief as he cried, embarrassed by his own intensity of expression, yet he gave himself over to it, and asked me to be there with him. An unfathomable gift to me.
- meeting Rev. Chris Antal and listening to him as he spoke in one of my classes. He is the author of “Veteran’s Day Confession for America.”
- my friends, who for two years running, haven’t filled up with resentment at my neglect of them while grad school (and work and parenting and partnering and daughtering) run me ragged. They still reach out to me and invite me to hang out with them, invite me to listen and talk with them.
- reconnection with beloved people of my past to find that we still have so much in common, have so much love and affection fusing us.
- people who hold me, and us, to a greater love, a greater compassion, and a greater justice – in my local community and in this wide, wide world. I appreciate the ways they see the world and help me to see it, to aim for something grander, to hope for something better. They remind me of the pain I sometimes cannot see in my isolation and the possibility I often cannot see on my own. A special shout out to Tim deChristopher and Peaceful Uprising.
- traveling, especially visits to the ruins of the Inchmahome Priory in Scotland and the ruins of Cloister Disibodenberg in Germany.
- the return of my daily meditation practice, for however long that lasts this time.
- the financial resources to visit my mother more often this year. And that she lives so near the Pacific Ocean, which offers itself and its solace to me on those trips. And the chance to visit other beloved family members while there.
- the generous hospitality I have experienced from friends, from people who became friends, from near-strangers, many of whom have opened their homes, and often their hearts. From that, I have greatly benefited.
- the livelihood I have been able to cobble together and the social work/home visiting/early childhood colleagues, old and new, here in Massachusetts and now, too, from Oregon and Maryland. This work continues to engage, sustain, and inspire me.
- for ministry and interfaith colleagues, virtual and fleshly. In particular, I am raucously joyfully thankful for this year’s Continental Gathering of UU Seminarians in October, which allowed some nearly fifty of us to embody that connection, that collegiality, that vision, that collective life.
- my husband’s dog Sonny, who died this year at the age of 16. I met him only five years ago, when he was already aging and much slowed down. And other dogs in my life: Otis, here at home; Joy, my mother’s companion; Cole, Lew’s sweet pit; Wren, another sweet pit who passed through Jessica’s family and onto another loving home. And Connor, who lived with us in 2012, but we run into on the dog walk and he jumps crazy for joy.
- Zander, our cat.
- the blessing of serving Village Church in Cummington, to be allowed among them, to take inspiration from them and hopefully offer some back, to have been invited to arrive and to be given the grace to leave this coming spring.
- as I try to remember to say before I eat, “Thank you for the wholeness of my family, thank you to those people and animals who labored and sacrificed that I may eat this food.”
And now, the sub-lists of gratitude
Books I read this year that stand out:
- Joanna Macy & Chris Johnstone’s Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We’re in without Going Crazy;
- Dairmuid O’Murchu’s In the Beginning was the Spirit: Science, Religion, and Indigenous Spirituality;
- James Ford’s If You are Lucky, Your Heart Will Break;
- The Experience of God: Icons of the Mystery by Raimon Panikkar;
- Proverbs of Ashes: Violence, Redemptive Suffering, and the Search for What Saves Us by Rita Nakashima Brock & Rebecca Ann Parker;
- Beginner’s Grace: Bringing Prayer to Life by Kate Braestrup.
I feel thankful for the blogging world, which came alive for me this year. In particular, I am thankful for the blogs (or social media presence) of
- Mary Luti (Sicut Locutus Est)
- Tom Schade (the Lively Tradition)
- James Ford (monkey mind)
- Jordinn Nelson Long (raising faith)
- Adam Dyer (spirituwellness)
- David Bollier (about the Commons)
- Unvirtuous Abbey
- the Interdependent Web (thank you, Heather Christensen).
and a random list of social media clips that caught my fancy (no doubt I am missing many):
- Kid President’s Pep Talk
- nearly anything by Symphony of Science
- This is Water (David Foster Wallace’s speech set to video)
- the Overview Effect
- that dog tease video that cracks me up STILL
- that baby laughing at ripping paper that blisses me out STILL
- Catherine McGee, Greg Scharf, and Yanai Postelnik who led a ten-day silent retreat at the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts;
- Revs. Parisa Parsa and Erica Baron who facilitated a three-day workshop with other UU religious leaders on the Developmental Model for Intercultural Sensitivity;
- my two mentors, Rev. Janet Bush and Stephen Philbrick, who take time in their busy schedules to meet regularly with me and to encourage me and reign me in as this ministerial formation evolves itself;
- professors at the various theological schools who taught or guided me this year: Dean (Rev.) Uriah Kim, Professor Yehezkel Landau, Rev. John Morehouse, Rev. Mary Luti, Rev. Shannel Smith, and Sister M.T. Winters.