"if the only prayer you ever say in your life is 'thank you,' it will be enough." -Meister Eckhart
"thanksgiving is inseparable from prayer." -John Wesley
i've been thinking about gratitude quite a bit this week, and how to foster a thankful spirit in the midst of the barrage of bad news that for me is punctuated by yet another "breaking news" notification on my phone, interrupting the busyness of my day to rudely remind me that the world's brokenness knows nothing of limits or boundaries, not to mention my schedule or sanity. still, the bad news keeps coming.
i just scrolled through my most recent notifications just from the last few days and they contain phrases like "crimes against humanity," "57 million users hacked, but not reported," "alleged pattern of sexual abuse," and "extremely disturbing," just to name a few. how am i supposed to be present at a staff meeting when my phone is buzzing to tell me about crimes against humanity?
then, into a soup of trump and moore and lasseter and franken and rose and whitefish, we add a substantial amount of turkey and awkward dinner conversation. all in the name of being thankful.
but can we be thankful in this mess?
last night i was scrolling through twitter and found myself in the middle of a thread marked by the hashtag #churchtoo, which was giving an opportunity to folks to express the countless ways they have been abused and mistreated by people of power and position within the church. there were stories of bruises and tears, of silencing and shunning. i wanted to tell other stories, because i know there are plenty of good stories, too, but i also know that these voices need to be heard. we need to acknowledge that no corner of humanity is unbroken. the church, no less than washington or hollywood, is full of humans who are frail and bent.
but as i wept at the corporate lament that was unfolding on my twitter feed screen last night, i remembered that the church has something that washington or hollywood don't necessarily have. we have grace. we have mercy. we have compassion. we have the ability to recognize that in our brokenness we meet the Love who heals and forgives and redeems and makes new things from old. this doesn't justify abuse or any bad behavior. this doesn't let anyone - ever - off the hook for taking advantage of those who are powerless; for using other people's bodies for personal pleasure; for spewing spiritual lies in order to silence or shun others. grace doesn't condone evil. but grace meets us in the middle of evil and shows us that Love is stronger.
and so we can be thankful. we can live with deep, real, and profound gratitude because, against all odds, we are loved. and if all we can say in response is a whisper of a "thank you," that is all that is really necessary.