#gratitude

Broken and Glorious

“As I walked down the avenue, the late afternoon sun was turning the lovely and dying sycamore leaves into fragments of brilliant stained glass, and I said to myself, “This alone is worth the price of admission to our broken and glorious world.” Linda Larrson

Reading this quote today a few things resonated deeply within me. This author is living in a place of gratitude, being able to see the beauty around her while not denying the brokenness that is present in this world on many levels. It is so easy to fall into stagnant puddles of cynicism, judgment, and apathy. But no, we have Hope with a capital H in the person of Jesus. It challenged me to continue to go forward knowing not all will ever be perfect but there is glory, God’s glory, if we look for it and be part of sharing that hopeful message with the world.

by Cathy

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Day is here! Across America, we enter into a kind of sacred ritual whether we are aware of it or not. We celebrate gratitude as we sit with our families or friends to break bread together and just BE with each other. For my family and me, it is our favorite holiday of the year.  There are no presents, no obligation, just a time to gather and be present to the day with each other. We gather for a prayer of thanksgiving and truly embrace the love of family and friends being thankful, once again, for our life together. We wash away any negative feelings and forgive any wrongdoings. It’s a renewal, or pathway, in a sense, for us to enter into the Christmas season. The ritual of Thanksgiving is sacramental and bonding.  Let us take the day to reflect and be thankful for just that. Happy Thanksgiving!

by Liz

Prayer As Leverage

An old philosopher once said, “give me a place to stand and I will move the earth.” This simple sentence holds at its core the concept of moving obstacles many times larger than the mover. Is it not the same as when we pray in silence for each other? Give us a place to pray and we can help change a hurting world. Give us a place to pray and we can be the fulcrums that move the earth towards gratitude. Yet gratitude will not be measured in years or hours or flowers of the earth. It will not be marginalized or set aside for the privileged. It brings no ill will to the light nor does it shine in the darkness. Gratitude cannot be filled to the top or drained to the bottom. It cannot be bought, sold or bartered for. Gratitude stands tall in sickness and it will not die. Every time we pray we create gratitude and move the world. Prayer is a simple concept of moving obstacles many times larger than the mover.

by Diego

Optimistic Love

I’m sitting in a cozy coffee bar on a crisp fall morning in the city of San Juan Bautista just east of Salinas. My dear friend Raoul is getting married this afternoon at the Mission to his fiancé, Julieta, (what a lovely name!), a beautiful and loving Latina woman. I’ve known Raoul since 1967 when we were both 12.  Together we’ve hitchhiked up through Oregon, camped all over California and survived the carelessness of youth.  Today he marries this delightful woman who I only know through Facebook posts and second-hand sources.  But knowing Raoul as I do, I can only assume that she is loving, caring and altogether wonderful.  Just as my optimism concerning her loving character has its roots in the person of Raoul, my love for you has its roots in the person of our forever-loving and shared Advocate, cheerleader and parent.

by Andrew

Thanksgiving List

Today begins Thanksgiving week! Besides grocery lists and menu-planning, no doubt we are also thinking of things for which we are grateful. Of course, at the very top of the list (and I’d guess we all have pretty similar lists) is, of course, what I sometimes refer to as the “Three F’s’–my faith, my family and my friends. What would have to come next is being able to work with our middle school families who participate in our parish Outlet program, performing service projects.  The parish staff often teases me because I’m always exclaiming “I love my job!” or “This is the best job I’ve ever had!” But, to be honest, it really isn’t a “job” to me. It is a gift.  To be able to introduce young people to ways they can follow Jesus by helping others is anything but work. It is not a “job.” It is pure “joy.”

by JAM

Grateful Farewell

Mohave Desert: A few clouds drifted above variegated landscapes, breathtaking rock formations, stunted yellow grasses, Joshua trees. We had come by jeep to say a grateful farewell to our remarkable friend, Randale Rudy Skates. If you met Randy, you didn’t forget him. He stood seven feet tall– a giant.  His heart, spirit, and intelligence were in proportion. In 1969, he came to our school. The coaches were immediately smitten. So was my friend, Susie. She was 5’3” with long dark hair and brown eyes. That was it for Randy. They married at the end of high school. Later, Randy and Susie lived in the house next to my family and we shared meals and music and dogs.  Randy loved dogs and all animals. They loved him. We all felt his love.  In this earthly paradise, friends scattered his ashes on a giant boulder. We sang Dylan: “I see my light come shining from the west down to the east; any day now, any day now I shall be released. . . .”

by Nataniel

Moving Grace

Due to all the overflowing of women coming forward disclosing predatory male behavior, many women posted, “Me Too” on Facebook. One of those women was someone very close to me. I was dismayed at being left in the dark for so many years and prayed for knowledge as to how to be with her in a healing manner. I discovered an article that offered a Christian response to such situations and I was so relieved and grateful to have direction! I felt as if I lived in ‘moving grace.’ I picked up on what is a long-held belief by Catholic Christians, that ‘grace’ is the constant, not the variable. Our receptivity and responses are the variables. How we see a situation determines how we respond or react to it. When asked, as the newly elected Pope, how he would describe himself? Pope Francis answered, “One who is looked upon by God.” I believe God sees our hearts, observes our actions, and loves us no matter what. It is our challenge to live inside His ‘moving grace’so that we can bring that grace into the world.

 by Gracie

Even the Sparrows

Out hiking, I noticed from a distance this birdhouse someone had placed in the canyon. Knowing that yes, even the birds need a place to call home, a place to rest from the elements. The scripture Matthew 6:26 came to mind: “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” A synonym for valuable is precious, something of great value. Do you often think of how precious you are to God? If our God can care for these tiniest of creatures, we can be thankful that this great love extends to us as well. Driving home that day these song lyrics played on my radio,”If He can hold the world He can hold this moment. Not a field or flower escapes His notice, Oh even the sparrow knows He holds tomorrow.” Coincidence? I don’t think so.

by Cathy