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Daily archives for November 1st, 2017

Thanks

Samain                                                              Joe and SeoAh Moon

mysticsHakarat hatov, Hebrew for gratitude, literally means recognizing the good. My friend Bill Schmidt often quotes Meister Eckhart, “If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.” In the 1980s I had a Jesuit nun as a spiritual director. She suggested I keep a gratitude journal because, she said, gratitude is the root of all spirituality.

As the Hebrew suggests though, there is a step just before gratitude, recognizing the good. We can live a life full of bitter disappointment amidst a bounty that would make others cry for joy. One Hasidic author I read said, “For example, a person has a drive to make ten million dollars and (regrettably) achieves it. Now he wants twenty…he nullified the value of the ten million in his mind.” Getting to Know Your Soul, Bilavi Mishkan Evneh.

20171016_070053Or consider our home here in Conifer. We have running water, indoor plumbing, a boiler, a gas stove, a microwave, a refrigerator. We have food in the refrigerator. We have a car in the garage. Three different perspectives on this seemingly so what list: 1. a person living in a refugee camp. 2. a person living in a favela in Rio 3. a homeless person in Denver or right here in Conifer. Not so so what now, is it?

But. We could look up the mountain, see the mini-palaces some folks have built up there and say, “We would be truly happy if only we could live there.” Or, when we see the occasional Maserati or Lamborghini or Ferrari on the mountain roads, which we do, we could say, “How much better life would be if only I had one of those.” This would be nullifying the ten million dollars.

“Rebbe Nachman of Breslov writes, “Gratitude rejoices with her sister joy, and is always ready to light a candle and have a party. Gratitude doesn’t much like the old cronies of boredom, despair and taking life for granted.””  Alan Morinis, Jewishpathways

gratitudeHow much better for our souls to recognize the love Kate and I share, the dogs that grace our lives, the material blessings we have, and they are blessings in the most theological sense of that term, as the good surrounding us, supporting us, allowing us to feel joy.

Enough is a close cousin of gratitude. When we recognize the good we have and that it is enough, then we can be joyful. Happy? I don’t know. Up to you. But joyful and satisfied, yes.

gratitude thank youI am grateful right now for the sound of Gertie sleeping, the miracle that is this computer on which I write, the electricity that powers it, that I woke up this morning, again, that Kate woke up, too. I’m grateful that the air is cool outside and that we have heat inside. I’m grateful l had fruit and vegetables and protein for breakfast. I’m grateful I had the chance to help Jon load the trailer last night. I’m grateful for the time with Joe and SeoAh and for the chance to participate in finding Murdoch. I’m grateful to live on a mountain, in the mountains, with Black Mountain always out my study window. And this list could go on, and on, and on.

So. My prayer, “Thanks.”

Tough

Samain                                                                        Joe and SeoAh Moon

Jon and Kate in his new house. The kitchen looks very different now.

Jon and Kate in his new house. The kitchen looks very different now.

The divorce continues to resonate through our family. Jon came up last night trying to meet our November 1st deadline to get his stuff out of our guest room and the room, lovingly decorated with a surround mural, previously held for the grandkids. We need the guest room since Kate’s sister Anne comes for Thanksgiving, then Joseph and SeoAh will be here over Christmas.

Jon’s got a lot on his plate and has had for well over a year. His first home insurance company dropped him and he has 60 days to cure three demands by his new one: cut back tree limbs, paint fascia boards, and start work on replacing galvanized plumbing. This in addition to the tear out of the kitchen he and his friend Max started last week, that sewer gas coming from somewhere and the cockroaches. At least these last he seems to have under control. Not to mention the almost flat roof, which seems in good shape but apparently bothers actuaries.

He’s got great skills and most of these matters are well within his capacity. Fortunately, this kind of work appeals to him. He’s building his own kitchen cabinets, for example.

But. He’s doing all this on top of learning how to single parent and on top of his day job as an art teacher at Montview Elementary in Aurora. He worked hard, really hard over the last year to achieve just these results: a house of his own, joint custody of his kids and to keep his job. He succeeded in a very difficult emotional and legal situation. Success though has its own price and he’s paying it now.

God, relationships are hard. Or certainly can be.

November 2017
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