"Thank You." A Gentle, Clarifying Lens.
Dear Kaleid Ladies,
How are you? We pray all is well in your homes and on your streets. Thank you for the notes of appreciation you sent after last week’s email about “othering.” We are grateful to participate in a community of women who humbly lean into love during complicated and divisive times.
Today on the blog, we’re heading out into the waters of Christian community to explore what it could look like. Like we already noted, there is much in this season that has us on high alert. Safety concerns, economic concerns, political concerns, family concerns. Our internal stress-meters are turned up higher than normal, and yet we truly do desire to love with our whole selves, even as we are wholly loved.
As we mentioned last week, Christine Pohl wrote a book on Christian community that identifies four fundamentals of this peace-making, bread-breaking, life-building context. She says, “Christian community begins in gratitude, is sustained by our promises and truthfulness, and is expressed in hospitality.”
So today, gratitude.
We consider gratitude not as an eyes-closed “Susy Sunshine” denial of the hard, hard realities many of us are living. Rather, we seek gratitude as a gentle and clarifying lens through which we look at our hard reality so that we can more faithfully consider it, live it, and perhaps even welcome it.
First, a gentle lens for the past. Are any of you seeing your past brought to light in new ways during this time? Do you watch yourself parenting or spousing or friending in ways that have strong ties to wounds from long ago?
Consider this. Gratitude helps us to remember differently, to know that we have “lived a graced life...Gratitude can reframe the truth of our own histories and enable us to tell the stories of our lives with a different understanding of how the pieces fit together. Gratitude helps us see rightly not only the goodness and activity of God, but also the character and actions of others as well as our own.” When we are agitated, gratitude gives us a way to look into our rear view mirrors to remember God’s “acts of love and care” so that we experience our present with deeper confidence and grace.
My friends, be kind to yourselves and to your nuclear communities today. By looking at the past with gratitude, we can welcome the people and the wounds with greater care and less fear. This is not easy, but it is good.
Practice: Consider what wounds you are finding newly opened or uncovered in this time. What are they? As you look back on their origin, consider how their presence in your life also offered gifts to you. What are those gifts? How can your expression of “loving the other” be made more gentle as you hold the tension between your wounds and your gratitude? Read Romans 8 and let the Holy Spirit speak grace to your heart.
Second, gratitude is a clarifying lens for the present. Soren Kierkegaard called envy a “small town sin.” We get too close to others and we become fussy about what we don’t have that they do have or about what we don’t particularly like about them. Gratitude can help us sharpen our appreciation for the present moment and people in our field of vision. Through it, we can cultivate a sense of God’s goodness, our giftedness, and the beauty of others. Gratitude sharpens our perception of beauty in others and in God, whereas ingratitude dulls us to seeing.
Pohl suggests catching others “in the act of being a gift.” Because when people know they have something to offer, they grow stronger in themselves and we grow stronger in our connections and our mutuality. Gratitude is a way to shine light on the beauty of the present moment and the people who inhabit it.
Practice: Take five minutes to open your eyes and your heart to your surroundings. Observe what is going on in the present--in you, in your surroundings, in the activity around you? Choose three things to give thanks for about yourself, three things about your space, and three things about the activity around you. Ask God to show you the beauty of these three spheres, even if you’re not feeling it. Finally, determine to catch the next person you interact with “in the act of being a gift” and tell them the gift they have given you. Read Psalm 84 and let the Holy Spirit speak beauty to your heart.
We are grateful for you and we pray for gentle healing and clarifying beauty over your day and over those you love.
The Kaleid Team