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A Prayer of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving focuses on Gods gifts. Our challenge is to take nothing for granted, but to appreciate every blessing. Thanksgiving is a way of life. Indeed, the prayer of thanksgiving characterizes a eucharistic people. Our gratitude centers on the greatest gift of allJesus. This gift, and all the other gifts through Gods providence, are expressions of Gods love. How fitting and just it is that we always and everywhere express our gratitude to the Lord.

from the book Living Prayer: A Simple Guide to Everyday Enlightenment by Robert F. Mourneau

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Fill Your Days with Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is fully living into our givennessit is the acceptance that our life is a miracle. To be thankful is to take pleasure in our existence and in the things that make that existence possible. In this pleasure, writes Berry, we experience and celebrate our dependence and our gratitude, for we are living from mystery, from creatures we did not make and powers we cannot comprehend. Berry is here speaking particularly of the pleasure that comes in our eating and its attendant thanksgiving, but he is also necessarily speaking of the pleasure of membership. Our lives are indebted to other lives and dependent upon them.... Through this gratitude and proper understanding of indebtedness, we are able to gain the freedom to become more generous ourselves. ... When we come to truly understand our givenness, which is also our indebtedness and embeddedness in the whole of the creation, then our response must be to give as we have been given. All pretenses that attend the accomplishments of our own work, all illusions of making value or owning something, is but a debt unaccounted, a gift accepted without thanks. Our first and most profound response should be to fill our days with thanksgiving. It is in that practice that we will finally begin to recover who we are and what we should be about in this world, this creation, this gift.

from the book Wendell Berry and the Given Life by Ragan Sutterfield

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Food for Our Souls

Food freely given exacts from us a promise to go beyond its selfish reception to the unselfish realm of deep gratitude. There we commit ourselves to give to others what we have received. My food mentors grandmother and mothercooked not because their sense of dignity depended on others opinions of them but because they knew that treating tablemates to the best they could offer was the backbone of every family and nation. Though ingratitude and indifference might have come to their table, it disappeared when they left it. Poured forth from previously pursed lips was a litany of gratitude complemented by what these good souls always wanted to see: sighs and smiles of contentment.

from the book Table of Plenty: Good Food for Body and Spirit by Susan Muto 

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Contemplate the Mystery of God

We cannot see God with our physical eyes nor can we find God through the logic of reason. The more we try to see God with our physical eyes or find God through logical analysis, the more we will fail. We will become increasingly frustrated and God will become more distant to us. To see the extraordinary ordinariness of God is to see with a different set of eyes, the eyes of the heart and to know God by a different logic, the logic of love. What Francis tells us in his Admonition is that we must contemplate the mystery of God. Contemplation takes place when we learn to see the mystery of God bent over in love in the fragile human flesh of Jesus Christ. The way to contemplate the mystery of Gods humble love, according to Francis, is in the Eucharist.

from the book The Humility of God: A Franciscan Perspective  by Ilia Delio, OSF

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Where Lion and Lamb Lie Down

Francis looked intently, and he looked with reverence and with love. He is moved. And it is that movement of the heart that leads to action. At the very least, it leads to praise; or if what is seen is broken or hurt, it leads to the need to help the other. And that need to help for Francis is not minimal. He pushes the envelope, for example, vis--vis the lepers. He doesnt simply give them a coin or food. He goes and lives among them and works mercy with them. It is a mutual exchange. They both experience mercy. That mutual giving and receiving is, I believe, the bedrock of Franciscan peacemaking. By overcoming shame or fear; or whatever it is that is holding you back from reaching out to the poor and broken ones, you enter a startling world of sweetness of soul that is not just self-serving but that accomplishes a profound reconciliation of opposites that makes it possible to experience a new, unexpected bond with the other. And you want to stay there, not necessarily in that physical place but in that spiritual and psychological space where the lion and the lamb lie down together. Nor is the bond something static. It only endures if you continue to overcome new barriers, cross new and fearsome barriers so that you yourself become the place of reconciliation wherever you go. That kind of portable peacemaker was who St. Francis was.  

from Surrounded by Love: Seven Teachings from Saint Francis by Murray Bodo

 

 

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Light Moves within Our Darkness

Like most people, I would prefer to escape deep loss and to avoid hard and challenging times. Yet the dark has given me gifts that are immeasurably deep. It was because I wrestled with the dark that I learned to see beyond what was happening on the surface of my life, and grew to understand that everything is more than it appears to be. In time I knew that the dark is not absent of light. Light moves within the dark at a great depth. With this realization came a glimpse of the inordinate beauty and power just beyond our sight.

from the book Stars at Night: When Darkness Unfolds as Night


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Take Nothing for Granted

Gratefulness brings joy to my life. How could I find joy in what I take for granted? So I stop taking for granted, and there is no end to the surprises I find. A grateful attitude is a creative one, because, in the final analysis, opportunity is the gift within the gift of every given moment. Mostly this means opportunities to see and hear and smell and touch and taste with pleasure. But once I am in the habit of availing myself of opportunities, I will do so even in unpleasant situations creatively.

from the book The Way of Silence: Engaging the Sacred in Daily Life by Brother David Steindl-Rast


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Live THIS Day

A younger friend told me about a life crossroads, which felt weighted by conundrum. I asked, So whats next? She replied, Im just waiting for God to show me what he wants from me. OK, I said to her. But in the meantime, until you have your life and self figured out and straightened out, I have a suggestion: Live this day, with this self, without holding back. Today; savor, doubt, embrace, question, wrestle, give, risk, love, fall down, get up, accept your incomplete and fractured self, know that anything worth doing is worth doing badly, speak from your whole heart, and whenever you can, lavish excessive compassion and mercy and healing and hope and second chances and grace and restoration and kindness on anyone who crosses your path. Who knows, we may love one another into existence. And Im sure God wont mind.

from the book This Is the Life: Mindfulness, Finding Grace, and the Power of the Present Moment by Terry Hershey

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Take Time to See Clearly

In this world darkened by despair and deep division,

we fumble dimly,

to see past self-interest, fears, and endless feuding.

But even looking down we can see beyond,

like the pilgrim seeking clarity

who found a limpid pool,

and bending down

glimpsed the Milky Way

mirrored in the deep.

Then gazing heavenward,

gaped and gasped

at the cosmic show above,

while awe-filled silence taught:

the stiller you become,

the clearer will your reflection be.

from the book Wandering and Welcome: Meditations for Finding Peace by Joseph Grant

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