Monday, January 26th
For Sunday, February 1st, 4th Sunday after Epiphany
READ: Psalm 111 “whole heart”
REFLECT: When I first began to pray with this psalm, the phrase “I will give thanks with my whole heart” stood out to me, especially the “whole heart” part. As I mulled over that phrase, my first thought was, “What if one’s heart isn’t whole? What if it’s been broken or injured? What if there is something that is corrupt or cancerous? What does it mean to give thanks then?”
My next thought was about what it would look like to in fact give thanks with one’s whole heart, which includes all of those dark craggy parts. The line “you shall love your crooked neighbor with your crooked heart” wafted up from somewhere. Perhaps W. H. Auden in his poem, “As I Walked Out One Evening,” was on to something there.
Loving my crooked neighbor with my crooked heart doesn’t require waiting until my heart is in perfect condition. If that were the case for any of us, we’d all be waiting to love and be loved indefinitely. And I thought, what if love, praise, thanks and my ability to give them is not about my own state of being but about one to whom they are given? To love God, to praise God, to give thanks to God, is about who God is, not about who I am or how I feel.
If we wait until we feel like it to love, to give thanks, or to praise, we’re saying our love and gratitude are conditional. In my experience, however, giving thanks anyway, loving and praising anyway, pull me outside of myself – sometimes for a much needed reprieve from my own inner turmoil. When my thoughts and attention do return to my own situation, I often find that I am refreshed and have a new perspective, and the response that wells up from within me is “thanks.”
RESPOND: God, it can feel disingenuous to give thanks — or anything else for that matter – when we don’t feel like it. And sometimes our own situations seem so bleak that it is hard to muster up even a kernel of gratitude. We pray that in those times even a kernel of gratitude would be like the mustard seed that begins small and grows to become a place that is truly life-giving.
So how can you begin to cultivate a practice of gratitude? I read recently about a young woman’s road to recovery that included a daily practice of writing down 10 things she was thankful for every day, no matter how small. Curious, I tried this myself. I was amazed at the way that I could feel my heart expanding, and each day it got easier to think of things for which I am grateful. Do you have a gratitude practice? Can you imagine how your life might be impacted if you felt more grateful?
LECTIONARY TEXTS FOR THE UPCOMING SUNDAY (and for you to try on your own):
1 Corinthians 8.1-13
Lectio Divina Paci is a weekly devotional guide by Audrey Hindes for peacemakers in the lectio divina form. Lectio Divina (Latin for divine reading) is a traditional Benedictine practice of scripture reading, prayer, meditation, and reflection that treats scripture as the Living Word. Lectio Divina Paci is an opportunity for peacemakers to become more in tune with the voice of the Prince of Peace.