Tag: gratitude

This Thanksgiving, Choose Gratitude over Grievance

 

Political commentators spend most of their days following the awful things happening in the world. Bad news, after all, is what dominates the news cycle.

War, death, poverty, and injustice (and the occasional cat video) fill our laptop screens from the moment we wake until we go to bed. By the fourth day of the workweek, it’s easy to cycle between outrage and despair.

People on all sides succumb to this emotional low road, which is why there’s so much anger about failed politicians, terrible policies, and broken promises. Our grandparents would yell at the newspaper, our parents at the TV, but now everyone can hear our complaints. Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube spread everyone’s misery worldwide.

Gratitude Is the Basis for Ethics

 

Androcles, a young Roman slave, sought escape in the wilderness from his unhappy life. Finding respite in a cave, he found himself face to face with a lion. The beast was anxious only for the removal of a thorn from his paw. Upon its extraction by Androcles, the lion submitted to the man, caring for him. After being captured as a runaway some time later, Androcles was sentenced to death-by-mauling within the coliseum. However, the lion let loose upon Androcles was one and the same who had benefited from the slave’s earlier kindness.  Instead of attacking the defenseless man, the lion lay at his feet, whereupon both were released by an astounded Roman governor.

The story of Androcles and the lion prompts this question, “How does gratitude change us?” I believe that gratitude is one of the chief pillars of life. Gratitude says that we give acclaim to Someone outside ourselves. Our response to this outside gift-giver is the basis for ethics: doing right by how we live. Doing right is proper response to gratitude. Doing right is based on remembering we live because of the gift given by Another. Doing right is a small response to a large endowment. Gratitude caused the apostle Paul to exclaim about Jesus, “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” To acknowledge life as a gift of God, one’s whole focus and concentration is moved from ourselves to One outside ourselves.

Disciples of Jesus as Lord bow the knee to their Sovereign Savior both in response to Who He is as well as what He has done. Following His instructions is the least we can do to show our gratitude. “Androcles and The Lion” teaches the lesson that doing what is right is first motivated by someone doing right by us. Gratitude is the basis for ethics.

A Sense of Wonder

 

Whether you are Christian or not, Christmas is a good time for renewal of innocence and wonder. The common sights of people excitedly opening gifts, decorating homes and public streets in lights, retelling stories of miracles and merriment — such experiences can rekindle in us a joyful pursuit of the good and the beautiful.

Loving Pain as Given: A Review of Heroes, a Dark Twist on the Grateful Acre

 

For B, and other youth whose grateful acres host, if not prairies, at least patchy meadows. And for Gary McVey.

It’s been a year since Will Arbery’s play, Heroes of the Fourth Turning, took the conservative Catholic blogosphere – or rather, that part able to see the play or a private script – by storm. Now the script is available to the public. I ordered my copy here. If you can afford to, read it. Theaters remain closed, but the theater of imagination richly rewards reading a play. Reading reveals motifs easy to miss when a play just happens to you in performance and you can’t revisit it. This review addresses unspoken pressures, like the prosperity gospel (which may not influence orthodox Christians’ theology, but can influence their social expectations), behind what conservatives speculate is Heroes’ demonic finale, the “We” who may, or may not be, Legion.

I’m Just Fine in Here

 

Many years ago, my husband and I were invited to a small dinner party by friends of ours. We didn’t know the other people who attended, but I had heard of one of them. Her name was Peggy. She was a minister at the Church of Religious Science in Huntington Beach, CA and was living with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease. At this point, she was confined to a wheelchair and was there with her husband. Someone who knew her but hadn’t seen her in a while asked her how she was doing. She answered, speaking with some difficulty, “I’m just fine in here.” I felt her smile and her face was glowing. I was so moved by the peace and joy she had found.

* * * *

At this time of year, Jews are preparing for the High Holy Days, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. One of my Torah study partners shared that there are many customs that can be practiced in this month of Elul and I wasn’t aware of them, so I did a little homework. Here is part of what I learned :

Grateful for What’s Not Happening

 

Watching riots, fires, attacks on law enforcement and listening to the idiotic decisions of mayors and governors is enough to drive any sane person over the edge. I try to limit my viewing of these incidents or reading about people taking steps to damage their cities and states.

And then I remind myself that I have so very much to be grateful for, regarding and in spite of coronavirus:

What do I owe you, dad?: A Letter

 

Dear Dad, 

We don’t talk much about feelings. Well, that’s actually not fair, I don’t talk much about feelings. That’s not on you, you’ve always been the person to cry at weddings and say ‘I love you’ with no hesitation, I guess I just turned out a little different. Doesn’t Stephen always say I was perfect to move to England because I’m so absolutely emotionless and taciturn? I do, though. Love you. A lot. A ‘I would kill for one of those bone crushing hugs at Logan Arrivals Gate E’ lot. 

Member Post

 

My first Mother’s Day as a married woman, my husband surprised me with a homemade flower bed and beautiful plants to fill it with. I wasn’t a mom so I wasn’t really expecting anything, but the thoughtful gift left me smitten. Sometimes Mother’s Day is about honoring the women in your life. Preview Open

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Testing… Testing…

 

If I were a certain sort of woman, I’d blame it on The Patriarchy. If I were another sort, I’d blame it on A Culture Insufficiently Supportive of Life. (And, if I were a very specific sort, I’d do both.) Instead, it was the understandable result of The Powers That Be in our neighborhood hospital system not having leeway to make more fine-grained distinctions in a crisis. Which is how pregnant women, who aren’t permitted to receive any in-person prenatal care right now if they have the least little sniffle but no negative lab result for Covid-19, must go through a lengthy, frustrating, and high-exposure screening process to see if they qualify for Covid-19 testing, while the nonpregnant may simply waltz – or rather drive – through safer, low-exposure Covid-19 testing in about 15 minutes.

If you’re pregnant, though, the screening process might take hours, during which you hear, at each step along the way, that you may be ineligible for the lab anyhow – and that’s just your time spent at the walk-in screening center. It doesn’t count the hours (days) you may have spent trying to find a walk-in screening center that hasn’t run out of swabs for the day, and finding out whether you’re even eligible to visit it.

Member Post

 

I’m trying to spread a little positivity, so here are ten things I’m thankful for during this crazy time: The Bible and prayer Extra time to spend with my family Technology to stay in touch with friends and participate in church activities Coffee Time to focus on my goals and plans Blankets and comfy clothes […]

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Quote of the Day: We All Need a Sabbath Right About Now

 

“Shabbat, one of the first commands Moses gave the Jewish people, remains as relevant now as it was then. It tells us that happiness lies not in what we buy but in what we are; that true commitment is to be found not by seeking what we lack but by giving thanks for what we have; and that we should never allow ourselves to be so busy making a living that we have all too little time to live. Above all, we should never be led by the crowd when it stampedes in pursuit of gain, for that is how gold becomes the Golden Calf.” — Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Covenant and Conversation

Many of us have extra time on our hands that we’d prefer not to have. People have lost their jobs, activities have been canceled, visits have been postponed, vacations are on hold. Regardless of your circumstances, everyone could use a Sabbath right about now.

You may feel like the last thing you want to do is rest, particularly if it’s been forced on you. But why not take this time as an opportunity? Some of you may want to work on long-delayed projects; others may want to do their spring cleaning early or clean out the refrigerator (ugh).

This Thanksgiving, Choose Gratitude over Grievance

 

Political commentators spend most of their days following the awful things happening in the world. Bad news, after all, is what dominates the news cycle.

War, death, poverty, and injustice (and the occasional cat video) fill our laptop screens from the moment we wake until we go to bed. By the fourth day of the workweek, it’s easy to cycle between outrage and despair.

People on all sides succumb to this emotional low road, which is why there’s so much anger about failed politicians, terrible policies and broken promises. Our grandparents would yell at the newspaper, our parents at the TV, but now everyone can hear our complaints. Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube spread everyone’s misery worldwide.

Gratitude

 

There is so much good in the world, we just need to look harder to find it. It’s there. It’s also important to celebrate the small victories. This quote defines how I feel:

“While there are some things wrong in the world today, there are many things right, such as teachers who teach, ministers who minister, marriages that make it, parents who sacrifice, and friends who help.

To Herb Meyer’s Memory

 

Over the years, Ricochet has inspired lasting friendships, not least of which is many members’ friendship with @tommeyer, who’s not only a great guy, but someone who rendered Ricochet great service before he moved on to other things. When Herb Meyer, Tom’s father, died, the outpouring of thanksgiving for Herb’s life was tremendous. At the time, I dedicated a motet I was working on to Herb’s memory, but life having gotten in the way, I haven’t had a chance to share it with the Ricoverse until now:

Ilhan Omar Hates America. Why Doesn’t She Leave?

 

The national media, both the liberal and squishy NeverTrump varieties, are all aghast that President Trump tweeted recently that if certain unnamed Progressive Democrat Congresswomen dislike America so much then why don’t they leave. And then he said they should come back and tell us how to fix America, if they’re such experts. But most people are ignoring that part of the tweet because it doesn’t match their prejudices. No, instead, all we hear about is how racist Donald Trump. Racist, racist, racist. Blah, blah, blah.

I’m an immigrant to my small, rural town in New Hampshire. That is, I was born about 90 miles away, in Maine. (This is just how things are in New England. I’ll always be “from away.”) A couple of years ago I attended a hearing held by the town zoning board on whether to allow a self-storage facility to be built on a property previously zoned residential. The particulars aren’t important, but I spoke out against the special exception to the zoning ordinance that the property owner was seeking. During a break, the property owner’s brother-in-law approached me and loudly informed me that I “should wait until [I’d] lived here longer before opening [my] [expletive] mouth.”

45 Years, or a 12-Step Program for a Successful Marriage

 

I would never have imagined that I would be married so many years. In fact, when I first met my husband-to-be, I told him that I didn’t know if I would ever get married. It just seemed like such a traumatic, demanding step; besides, who would have me?

But I was wrong—and I’m so glad I was. In meeting my husband, I found a man who is generous, smart, funny, helpful, and kind. He can also be stubborn, determined, and obsessive about detail. But I digress . . .

Today we will be married 45 years, and I thought I would write about the reasons we’ve had a successful marriage. Yes, there are things I could complain about, but I’d have to confess to my own shortcomings and I wouldn’t want to ruin my image. I’m even going to ask my husband to critique this post, and if I’ve distorted anything or left out anything crucial, I’m absolutely certain he will let me know—in a kind way, of course. (Right, dear?) So here are my twelve steps to our successful marriage, in no particular order: