I received this scripture and quote from Sojourners this morning:
Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.
~ Revelation 7:12
I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought,
and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.
~ Gilbert Keith Chesterton
On a day on which our brothers and sisters in Mumbai are still in shock after the bombings on Wednesday, and my friends in Africa won’t have quite enough to eat – as usual, and some friends here are struggling financially unlike ever before, and another friend watches a beloved little one struggle with a serious illness, I feel that the kind of gratitude that Chesterton has described can be too hard to find. Too often gratitude is expressed in platitudes that don’t truly flow out of the depths of our lives. I need more.
Today I sit and type, having already prepared our 23 pound turkey, awaiting friends and family for a day of feasting and football (unless I can wrangle It’s a Wonderful Life into the dvd player…). Today it is easy for me to find gratitude on one level. But I have come to believe that the gratitude of which Chesterton speaks, “the highest form of thought“, is experienced beyond the calculating mind and visible circumstances. It seems more like a form of healing prayer. This prayer is a posture of the soul- a reorienting of ourselves before God so that we may remember the Source of all good things. There, we may behold Him. Behold, the Lamb of God. Behold, your King is coming. Behold, I make all things new. As we behold Him we learn to embrace our humbling dependence and begin to acquire a taste for heavenly food, so we may feast on it and be filled. We are finally postured to receive.
In times of great loss and suffering in my own life I have found it impossible to find that posture on my own. There is no beholding; the window to see through is slammed and bolted shut. In those times the Body of Christ has taught me that we may gather together in sort of a dance, and reorient our posture together before the living God. Everyone is welcome to join in with any one of the thousands of creative ways that we come around each other, from sharing a meal to just holding a hand in silence. Sometimes someone is only able to sit quiet, bent over, clueless even about how to receive. Sometimes I find myself to be the one who is messing up the dance line (like when trying to learn to dance the Hustle at a wedding reception- I can be a step behind, making the whole thing look clumsy) but no matter. As the dance progresses, we literally borrow from each other’s faith to find our sight again.
Perhaps that’s the purest expression of gratitude to God: a community of hearts moving upward in beholding, and outward in blessing so those of us who have forgotten those steps are helped to learn them again. And again. For this beautiful, living, vital community, I am truly thankful.
Jesus Dance by Lori Vafiades – Used by permission of the artist.