Bend the Arc 100 : Come on in out of the cold

So you want to do your part to bend the arc towards justice? Then you’d better check you haven’t left some part of yourself out in the cold. You’re gonna want to bring your whole self with you. 

A week ago I basked in the company of eleven women ranging in age from their thirties to their seventies. We met to talk about how to mobilize our yearning and practice to bend the arc towards justice. We shared our intentions.

We practiced letting in all the parts of ourselves who showed up. 

We started there because we need every bit of our body, imagination and soul strength to bend the arc.

I want to share with you what I shared with them: a few words about inclusion from a nondual perspective. About its origins and power in what I call….

The Radical Oneness of existence, or the Universe, or Reality. Many spiritual traditions view the world in this way.  You could call this Oneness God, the One who Holds (as in He’s got the whole world in His hands), The Buddha-Nature, Isness, The Great Kindness, The Garment of Destiny (as Martin Luther King did), the Quantum Field (if you are a physics nerd.) My own roots are in Kabbalah, the Jewish wisdom tradition. I am partial to the Hebrew name Makom, which means The Place.

This is a Oneness so great that it holds every distinction, separation, split, pair  of opposites, conflict, suffering, goodness, and every known and unknown. This is a world that is One not because it is has not shattered, but because it includes every shattering and every shard and sliver.

We humans, on the other hand, split the world. It is our nature. Hard-wired. For our survival. We make distinctions: this/that, urban/rural, fashionable/out of style, essential/frivolous, normal, i.e. the norm/deviant. Then we go on to label them as “good” or “bad” and attempt to be/do/associate with the good-only. Or we inappropriately ride over, transcend, or erase differences, as in the view that we are a “post-racial” nation.

We do this splitting as we look out at the world. And we do this splitting as we look inward at ourselves. We tend to include the parts of ourselves that we like – that are up to our standards of behavior or performance or skill or kindness or morality. And to exclude other parts we don’t like.

For some of us, it’s the “good” parts we have trouble including, so we deny or minimize – that thing that I do, it’s not such a big deal.  Or diminish ourselves in comparison to someone “better.” Or fall into the mantra, “not good enough, not good enough, not good enough.”

The inner critic manages to keep close track of these. So does the task-master. So does the one intent on personal or spiritual growth, who often teams up with the critic/taskmaster to

–  wheedle, charm, or ring self-acceptance out of us

– turn us into an un-ending self-improvement project

– insist that we “let go of,”  “purify” or “transcend” or “see it as illusion” or otherwise get rid of/kill off the the parts of ourselves we don’t like

– shame us, a category all its own

Living in this gap between our idealized and our real self is a high-maintenance and exhausting job, all the more-so when we aren’t awake to it.

Nondual practice – rooted in Radical Oneness, turns our attention towards forging a path of deep self-acceptance and dedication to staying at our working edge. We do our best to listen to the intelligence of our strengths and limitations, the parts of ourselves that we like, the parts we hate or despair of, the parts we deny or minimize.

The more we can do this, include each of these parts, come into relationship with them, give them a place, the more wisdom we have access to, and the less our limitations are obstacles in our path. The more we can do this, the more we can be intelligent companions to all kinds of people. We have less compulsion to turn our  “opposites” into our “opposition.”  The more we can do this, the more we are neither larger nor smaller than we actually are. (This has been one of my specialities, going back and forth between messianic aspirations and goals and helplessness.)

It also turns out that as we can do this, the more that connection and Oneness shine through the multiplicity. The fabric shimmers, even while wet with tears. The more palpable God’s presence becomes in our daily lives. This is the work of healing and awakening.

What does this have to do with bending the arc?

  • Pragmatically, materially speaking, we need all the wisdom we can access, and all the wholeness we can muster, to meet life.
  • From the standpoint of healing and awakening, we are each born into this world to bend the arc in a particular way: that particular way of bending that we are born for, born to, heals our soul, and heals the world. Inseparably. Simultaneously. The very same life. That is what we are here for.
  • And we are not on our own in this work. Reality has our back.

We humans and God: together we bend the arc.

How to sit in the dark

Insomnia taught me how to come fully alive in the night hours, how to sit in the dark.

Listen to the night-time traffic pattern, to the wind, to waves of feeling I sequestered during the day, to the ordinary.

Listen for a prompting, a question, a relaxation of muscle, intellect or heart.

Listen for Who might be listening for me.

Speak not with my tongue but some more subtle organ.

Here’s what I learned not to do: turn on a light, pick up a book, banish anxiety, get online, organize anything, expect answers. Distractions all.

Darkness is to sink into, like a seed held by soil without a tremor of urgency, the womb of time and space. Darkness, as Wendell Berry says, does its work.

These lessons of sitting in the dark strengthen me now, when so much of the shadow of the human psyche is abroad in me and in the world.

Darkness itself is sentient, full of knowing, and able to awaken, as we come into relationship with her.

As I wrestle with the sea changes in the US and around the world, I am more aware than ever of my own shadow being, and how vital it is for me to continue my “night-time” work, then bring it out as I engage with the daylight world.

While the days have begun to lengthen now,

may we be willing to continue laboring in the dark,

may we come to appreciate its value,

may we be resolute,

may we hold hands,

may we lift up one another as we stumble.

 

White women: Take the Privilege Challenge

The first in an occasional series that brings the skills and power of a life of practice to bear on healing and awakening deep cultural and tribal divides.

As white women, we know plenty about male privilege. And we can use that knowledge to take the mystery and invisibility out of White Privilege.  I turned to Peggy McIntosh’s “Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” for a list of prompts to begin to assemble my own.

While associate director of the Wellesley Collage Center for Research on Women, Macintosh came to understand white privilege through her work on male privilege. She recognized that she had been “taught to see racism only in individual acts of meanness, not in invisible systems” that favored her group.  She set out to work on herself by observing the daily effects of white privilege in her life. Her seminal and scholarly piece (dating to 1988) remains widely cited today: White Privilege and Male Privilege: A Personal Account of Coming To See Correspondences through Work in Women’s Studies.”

Take the Privilege Challenge – check out Macintosh’s Knapsack and then unpack your own. I promise you it will wake you up to our shared humanity in some surprising ways. Even if you think of yourself as awake and on to yourself in racial matters.

And if you are a white healer, coach, bodyworker or therapist who works with people of color, as you explore and deepen your embodied awareness of privilege, you will offer them a level of safety in the healing relationship of incalculable value.


On the white side of privilege

When I don’t feel normal I can be sure it’s not institutional racism, or even personal prejudice, at work, just some neurotic part of my personality that’s the culprit.

I can hang out with a bunch of white people almost anywhere, even a street-corner after dark, without being told to move along.

No one comes up to me and touches my hair, or even asks if they can touch my hair.

No one asks me to give them examples of micro-aggressions.

I can browse undisturbed for clothing or CDs or a gift for a friend: no one follows me around to make sure I’m not a shoplifter.

No one will be surprised and thus praise me for being “so articulate.”  The way I speak is considered proper and normal, aka “the norm.”

I do not put myself in danger or suffer any threat or penalty for remaining ignorant of the language, culture, and history of other races.  But I can cluelessly ask a person of color to remedy my ignorance by explaining things to me.

I can have a bad hair day, grocery shop in torn and dirty jeans, even raise my voice in public without anyone attributing my looks or behavior to the bad morals, poverty or illiteracy of my race.

If I get pulled over while driving, I’m going to drive away with a warning or a ticket. No search of my car or body cavities. If I need the police, I can call 911 without worrying that somehow I’ll end up suspect, roughed up, or dead.

I can get really angry, even act really angry without scaring every white person in view.

I have never been denied credit or a rental because I am white.

I never had to have The Talk with my children on how to stay physically safe because of their color. Nor did they go to school in the morning  after their sleep was disturbed by gunshots or their waking by news of another neighbor, cousin or friend shot. I never had trouble finding them books that tell their stories.

No one in my family has been denied bail, tried in a court of law or been imprisoned.

I am pretty free to choose to avoid people who have been taught to be afraid of me.  And if people of another race distrust me, I am likely to be oblivious to it.

Health statistics in my country are pretty much on the side of my race.

It’s easy to find “flesh-colored” crayons and band-aids that are close to the actual color of my skin.

I am never asked to speak for the entire white race.

No one crosses the street to avoid me.

No one freaks out if I wear a hoodie.

No one mistakes me for the janitor, the stock clerk, or the door-person because of my race.

I can come home at the end of a day in city, suburb, or small town without the weight of having felt unwelcome, unsafe, suspect, as if I did not belong. Without the exhaustion of constant vigilance.

 


Now you give the Privilege Challenge a try, and please – share  your findings below.

2017: the power to act weds healing and awakening

It’s 2017 and I’m determined to see that the power to act weds nondual healing and awakening in new ways – for my individual clients,  for the civic body, for the common good.

I was a reluctant student of power. And in my efforts to exercise power and speak truth to power, I burned out as a non-profit professional by the mid ’90s.

My life took a different turn. I learned about other kinds of power: the power of the body to heal itself, the powers of the plants, the transformative power of embodying the nondual. I grew into a healer and an herbalist. The social activist entered a long sleep even as other parts of me were awakening.  

Still, my years as a community organizer taught me to listen to my clients’ stories, to listen not only for the impact of their family life, but the impact of skin color, wealth, opportunity, gender, sexual identity, and the other societal constructs that shape us.

The Baltimore Uprising in April, 2015 woke up that sleeping seeker of justice. The November election energized me.

2017 promises me ample opportunities to explore the relationship between healing and empowerment, to marry the seeker of justice with the healer, to explore ways to heal our civic body.
What could that look like? How about we figure this out together?

 

Here’s my back story,  with a deep bow to remarkable teachers of mine.

I was a reluctant student of power.

Charm and subtle manipulation served me so effectively for so many years in the daughter-mother-wife-entrepreneur roles. And when my few strategies failed me, I had learned to simply withdraw. I was 36 and recently separated when I was hired by the Northeast Community Organization and underwent a week-end church-basement training in Alinsky-style organizing. Among other things, I learned that those who have not amassed wealth to spread their influence around had better learn to amass a lot of human bodies. Also that an opponent, aka enemy on one issue might well become a bedfellow on the next.

Over the next fifteen years, two black professionals tutored me in different aspects of power. I inherited Organizational Psychologist Michael F. Broom, Ph.D. as my mentor when I took over as Director of The Maryland Food Committee, a statewide anti-hunger organization where I’d been working for five years. He was the first person – yes, really – to talk with me about “use of self”: actual skills for becoming aware of thoughts, emotions, and behaviors and using intention to choose behaviors that would optimize getting desired results and minimize or at least manage difficulties along the way.

A few months into working with me, Michael cut through my foggy persona like a knife through butter with five words: You’re not helpless, you know.

I certainly had been helpless up to that moment, given how unconscious I was about my – um thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.

I went on to learn an enormous amount from Michael and his colleagues Edie and Charlie Seashore, deans in the field of organizational development. How to participate in and then facilitate race and gender conversations in organization settings. How to run multi-day large-group consensus-building processes to address social problems.

But to learn play in the political arena, I needed more street smarts than my tidy upbringing could ever have imagined. My tutor and role-model was Reverend (now Bishop) Douglas Miles of Koinonia Baptist Church. Doug also headed Baltimore United in Leadership Development (BUILD), a church and neighborhood-based organization affiliated with Alinsky’s Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF). He picked up with me where the church-based week-end had left off. No, I never set out to learn how to preach from this master of conscience, nor inspire crowds to action as he did.

Doug taught me about the importance of relationships built on trust, and the time, skill and heart needed to develop them.

He taught me about the courage and inner strength human beings draw from standing together, walking a street together, powering a meeting together. About the importance of everyone being crystal clear about the goal and the negotiating position.

Twenty years later

When I left social justice work, my colleagues and I had made some inroads in opening up what we thought of as the real conversation: the poverty that fostered hunger and birthed hundreds of food pantries and dozens of soup kitchens. The resistance to naming and delving into next level of reality, the institutional racism that drove poverty that drove hunger – that resistance was fierce.

Now racism, and all its kin are the stuff of daily conversation, from the raw to the scholarly. The lid is off and #this is our history, #this is who we are. What are we – together – going to do about it?

I am determined to figure out how you and I can each use our life of practice to see that we wed the power to act to nondual healing and awakening in new ways – for our individual clients,  for the civic body, for the common good.

How can we open up meaningful conversations across the divides in our families and communities, make life-changing strides for our hurting kin, all while being our wise and foolish human selves?

Here’s my invitation:  Join me via Zoom, Tuesday, January 17, 7:30-8:30 pm EST

in observing Martin Luther King’s Birthday.

Let’s mobilize our yearning and our practice to bend the long arc towards justice.

TO REGISTER: email me at alifeofpractice@gmail.com

Please make Subject line BEND THE ARC

I’m gonna rock my rhythms into 2017

I am about to rock my way into 2017, re-membering and re-calibrating to my own rhythms.

As the year turns, I will be blessed once again to visit Assateague Island, wonder at the shaggy wild ponies as they wander roadside fields, see what changes the weather has brought this year.

Assateague is a barrier island, 37 miles long, stretching offshore of Maryland and Virginia. At no point is the island more than a mile wide. Overwash continues to move the island landward: winter storms move sand from ocean-side beach and dunes and deposit it along the landward side, sometimes opening new inlets or closing old ones. Depending on the severity of the storms and the extent of the changes, recovery may or may not take place over the gentler summer months.

I will take some time to sit in one of these generous wooden rockers on the deck at the Visitor’s Center and consider how the year has re-shaped me.

A year a go I found myself aware not only of possibilities but also of hesitancies, uncertainties, limitations: irresolution. I passed up goal-setting in favor of some open questions – and now I have a few answers.

How am I being drawn forward in my life as well as shaped or impelled by my past?

I have been drawn forward into teaching and group facilitations by hearts, minds, and hands extended toward me in partnership and collaboration. And impelled forward by consuming interests  from my past (I mean past, as in 20 years!) that have reappeared, seeking re-integration: social activism, Jewish renewal, the texts of Kashmir Shivaism.

It has, in fact, been a little spooky how people from that earlier era have made a series of reappearances into my life, and we have picked up conversations as if we had left off just yesterday.

Clearly there is some Very Large Rhythm at play here.

What is the thread I have followed, sometimes consciously, sometimes not?

When I posed this question a year ago, I had in mind some theme, a result perhaps, like, oh, becoming more myself. But I think the thread I have followed has been a process thread: listening and choosing. Listening to what Life is saying, what Life is offering, what Life is denying. And then choosing. And then making myself responsible for my choices.

What do I know that I have not allowed myself to know that I know?

That the Universe has my back. And not just sometimes. All the time. I’ll admit I have come to this from a place of doubt, even skepticism. I came to it through outcomes much grander than my partners and I could have created out of our own volition and skill. And through losses that did not fell me.

That with the Universe at my back, I need no longer sit when I should stand, stand when I should walk, walk when I should dance.

Which is a very good thing, because, my friends, 2017 is calling us loud and clear to stand together, walk together, dance together. 

There are some very Large Rhythms at play, and some very Large Dissonances at play, and the Universe has our back.

May you delight in the blessings of Winter

May you delight in the blessings of Winter

a season for restoring body and spirit,

and for savoring

friendship,

long quiet nights,

warm, nourishing soups and stews,

herbal teas that soothe, warm, and cheer,

candle and firelight,

the sheer beauty of nature’s forms stripped of all finery,

the still small voice within.

However you observe the season, may you find yourself in good company and in good cheer.

At an intersection: But what do you love to do?

“But what do you love to do?”

JC has stopped me in my tracks with his question. We have been sharing our respective histories and current engagements with activism and social justice, and I am suddenly and unaccountably inarticulate.

Here I am a couple of hours later trying to understand why.

I met JC Faulk as a facilitator of conversation circle events several times over the summer months, and we had spoken before. Long enough to discover our shared admiration and debt to Edie and Charlie Seashore, who had trained both of us in group skills and diversity work, albeit a half generation apart from one another. An unexpected intersection, rich with a shared understanding of group process.

Red Emma’s, where we met over breakfast, sits at its own notable intersection. Charles Street runs north-south. It is typically described as “Baltimore’s Main Street,” “a historic cultural corridor,” ripe for development and redevelopment, and “a place where people want to live.” North Avenue, which crosses Charles Street just outside the door, runs east-west. It is “targeted for revitalization, improved safety, economic opportunity and access for residents.” This corridor gained notoriety for the Uprising that took place about two miles west of here in April 2015. These corridors can easily stand in for the city’s racial and economic fault lines. Red Emma’s sits at this intersection, drawing a mix of customers from both corridors, a stew rich with possibilities. A rarity in Baltimore.

I have just written myself to a new understanding. Now I see that I am pinned by his question at my own intersection:

Who I am and who I wish I was. Who I am and how I’d like to see myself: more skilled, more willing, more courageous, tougher and more empathic, grittier and more loving, ready to put not just my voice but my body on the line. The for-real Sara and the idealized Sara. The Sara who wants to make a difference in the world, be a difference in the world and thinks she has to be some other person to do this. The Sara who has just effectively devalued her life’s work.

And oh, my. The fact that I have crossed and recrossed this bridge with pretty much every single client I have worked with over the years does not save me from the same dilemma.

Now that I have named this problematic intersection, here’s my answer, JC:

I love to write. It helps me to see myself more clearly, to see myself whole. When I share my writing and hear back that it has helped some readers see themselves whole, I am nourished even more.

I love to explore life’s challenges with another person, to see the light come on in someone’s eyes. See a face soften, a body relax or straighten up as it needs to.  A flash of understanding. The “oh,” or the silence that says: I really get that, I get that in a way that restores me to something essential in myself, I get that in a way that I can make a different choice, I get that in a way that I see you in a fresh way. I love to travel with someone as she takes root in herself, breaks through hard soil, and unfolds towards the sky.

I love to play a role in a community that shares a clear focus and intention for a common good. Every such group is an intersection of differences rich with possibilities.

I love to work with people who are ready to talk, and want practice. Help design welcoming and safe but not bland or superficial group meeting spaces. Where strangers can build lasting and resilient relationships over time, become allies and friends. Where we human beings can show up with our strengths and limitations. Grant one another dignity. Listen to and tell stories. Learn and teach. Be together in “we don’t know.” Shed tears and shake with laughter. Drop through anger and fear and open to heartbreak. Stand together. Grow, grow up, grow in self-responsibility. Build the generosity, willingness, fortitude, trust to have one another’s backs.

And by nourishing connection in these ways, draw down grace. Because when we humans come into relationship, especially when that relationship is big enough to hold our differences, the world does respond and signal.

I love to work with practice groups, where we can practice being imperfect, genuine human beings together, and carry that out into our lives.

Thanks for asking, JC.

Now, friends – read more about JC’s work here.


 How about you? What do you love to do?

Make yourself useful

It is my mother’s pen knife (pictured above) that I hold most dear among the items I selected when my family members and I were disposing of her belongings. Because she used it every day: to open mail and adult-proof bottles, to cut out a coupon from the paper, to move a reluctant button through its hole. Her hands touched it. This pen knife made her life manageable in the small ways that nourished and her independence. It lived on her kitchen counter, within easy reach – perhaps dating to her eighties or her nineties, when her twisted, arthritic fingers were not up to the job. I found it where she left it when she for the hospital with a broken ankle.

Mom raised me to make myself useful, although my ideas about that, and my actions have changed over the years: change the diaper, change the oil, change my viewpoint, change my pig-headed idea. Change how I look. Change how things look. Change how things are. Change the world in small and large ways.

These days, here’s how I make myself useful:  I choose my words, my tone, my intention deliberately. Sharpened to the needs of the moment. To open a heart, soothe a vulnerability, set a boundary, fix responsibility, validate a feeling, challenge a lie.  To seal a bond or break a connection.

God spoke the universes into existence. I choose my words to keep them spinning for the common good.

How do you make yourself useful for the common good?

 

Anger, fear, a broken heart: healing self, healing society

Beneath the anger, fear. Beneath the threats, broken hearts. Start there and we might get somewhere.

Parker Palmer,  On Being, Nov 12*


IN PRACTICE: Beneath my anger, fear

Sometimes life comes at me as an arrow, pierces me. It cuts right through anger and fear. It cuts right through who I think I am, who I think the Other is. The wound is clean and oddly bloodless. The pain is sudden, sharp, grace-filled. Sorrow and tears arise soon after.  Then an actual or a virtual embrace, an ocean of tenderness, words offered and received. Intimacy with, or without, agreement on anything except one single essential: relationship.

 

IN PRACTICE: Beneath my threats, a broken heart

Someone fails to meet me, hear me, see me, even be willing to take the time to understand me. I feel erased in some fundamental way.

My first response is strongly physiological: heat rises. Then – depending on my relationship with my partner-of-the-moment – my fear will 1) push my anger up into my throat and out my mouth in words aimed at an enemy 2) go right to my kidneys, where I turn cold and uncommunicative or 3) turn me colder yet, so cold that I freeze altogether. Fight, flight, freeze.

It takes effort not to go the way of habit.

It takes effort to follow my broken heart, to let it break open further.

When I am awake and courageous enough to meet myself, hear myself, see myself, feel myself vividly and fully in my body, to study myself – sorrow, grief, anger, pride, remorse, self-righteousness, shame, wild joy, triumph, emptiness, confusion. Even numbness. And yes, numbness paradoxically is full of sensation.

When I know I am both armed to kill and the Great Reconciler, I trust I have opened to my own heartbreak.  I can begin to sort things out within myself. I am willing and able to withstand the alchemical heat of these questions, and when I take action it has a power beyond my puny ego:

– Am I in danger here? Physically? Emotionally or psychologically? Spiritually? What help do I need to call on?

– Are other people in danger? Who needs to be warned, and how?

– Did my partner-of-the-moment cross a boundary? Is my response in proportion? Or am I trying to correct for all the times anyone has ever crossed this boundary with me?

– Was I clear?  Was I hoping my partner-of-the-moment would accurately read my mind or between the lines? Was I acting out some other frustration that has nothing to do with this partner-of-the-moment? Have I withheld information, emotion, criticism only to have it leak out, as it does, into the interaction?

Wrestling with these moments, I let in a great deal more information, information I have been fending off or suppressing. I free myself to take action that is in relationship to, intimate with a bigger reality.  I can take action without certainty that it is the “correct” action to take, without certainty that it will bring about the result I desire. Yet my action is sane, even wise, because I am relationship with life.

 

A SOCIETY IN PRACTICE: Start with broken hearts and we might get somewhere.

Our nation is in great pain. It was built on even greater injury. Appropriation of land. Enslavement of fellow-humans. Two hundred and forty years of  legal precedents and not fully scrutinized beliefs, policies, institutions. Our history continues to unfold from these origins, played out in city streets, rural ghost towns, and edgy communities. In and out of view of mainstream news. In and out of view of social media. Much of the story has yet to be told, much has been forgotten, and much remains suppressed and bound in our national consciousness.

None of us are free agents until we walk this territory together.

Many of us have tasted the personal freedom that comes from diving courageously and deeply into our personal histories and imperfect humanity.

It is time now to figure out how to hack our considerable practical, psychological, and spiritual  skills and apply them for the healing of our country. To acknowledge and dive deep together into our shared difficult and violent history. 

What if we could help one another out, help one another to heal from the socially-inflicted wounds of a soup bowl of “isms” just as we help one another out, help one another to heal in our personal, family, workplace lives?

What if we could bring such whole-making skills to the civic body of our neighborhoods, cities, suburbs. rural areas?

What if we can become the arrow that pierces through anger and fear, cuts right through who we think we are, who we think the Other is, and lays bare our broken hearts?

What if we could collectively bear that sharp, sudden pain of recognition and sorrow, and cry together?

What if we could tenderly embrace without agreement on anything except one single essential: relationship, not more perfect, more human?

What do you need to become the arrow?

What breaks your heart open to an “Other”?

The grace and opportunity are with each of us,

and call us to this collective

and collaborative work.

Here. Now.


Parker Palmer,  On Being, Nov 12

You are guests around my Thanksgiving table

Dear Friends –

It is just over a year that many of you have been following my blog posts.

This year of sharing my writing and practice with you have changed me both “for the better,” and “for good,” as Glinda and Elphaba sing to one another in Wicked, The Musical.

During this time, many “former” interests and areas of study have reappeared. They are knocking about in my heart and mind, shaking off years of dust and neglect. Insistent about wanting to be reintegrated as living presences in my life – social engagement, formal prayer, scriptural teachings from my Eastern path, a poetry manuscript I put aside over a year ago. These are some of my working edges, and I’ll continue to explore them in your good company.

Have you too been changed for the better over this past year? for good? 

What are your working edges now?

What questions are you struggling with?

And what would you like to read about here in the coming months and year?

What kind of nourishment would help restore you to yourself? 

Please take a moment out of your own holiday observances to respond in the COMMENT BOX below.

I’ll be paying attention.

I send you my deep gratitude in this season of giving thanks, for kind words, thoughtful comments, provocative questions. In a very real sense, I will feel your presence as guests around my family’s Thanksgiving table.

My dear friend Suzanne read the following poem to us at her table a few nights ago, and I’ll be sharing it at ours on Thursday evening.

Love and blessings to you and yours, and to the Greater Family of which each of our families is a part.

Sara

 

In Thanksgiving

adapted from the prayerbook Mishkan T’filah, used by Reform Jewish Congregations

 

For the expanding grandeur of Creation,

worlds known and unknown,

galaxies beyond galaxies,

filling us with awe

and challenging our imaginations,

we give thanks this day.

 

For this fragile planet earth,

its times and tides,

its sunsets and seasons,

we give thanks this day.

 

For the joy of human life,

its wonders and surprises,

its hopes and achievements,

we give thanks this day.

 

For our human community,

our common past and future hope,

our oneness transcending all separation,

our capacity to work for peace and justice

in the midst of hostility and oppression,

we give thanks this day.

 

For high hopes and noble causes,

for faith without fanaticism,

for understanding of views not shared,

we give thanks this day.

 

For all who have labored

and suffered for a fairer world,

who have lived so that others might live

in dignity and freedom,

we give thanks this day.

 

For human liberties and sacred rites,

for opportunities to change and grow,

to affirm and choose,

we give thanks this day.

 

We pray that we may live

not by our fears but by our hopes,

not by our words but by our deeds.

 

Blessed are You, Who orders and rules the universe, Your Name is Goodness,

it is fitting to give You prayers of gratitude and praise.