Spirited reflection: Let’s name that for which we are so thankful
What am I grateful for? Gratitude can be hard to find in the stress, pain and panic of our broken, aching world. I have long admired those who make time for a gratitude journal. There, sometimes online so others can be inspired, they acknowledge the small things, bring to the surface what some take for granted, celebrate when they have made it through something difficult. Whether related to the ordinary or the extraordinary aspects of life, theirs is a daily practice of reflection.
The first creation story shared by Christians and Jews is punctuated with these “step back” moments. In the midst of extraordinary action the Creator practices reflection: “it is good,” “it is very good.” In response to the loving Creator, we say “yes,” and “we are so grateful” for the beauty, diversity, resilience, and sustenance that is blessed creation.
This is good.
These last few days I’ve had moments when “good,” “wonderful,” and “grateful” came into my head, despite the grave and challenging situations we are in. At the Global Climate Strike I held a baby in my arms – one of the newest KAIROS Kubs – while standing beside an ecumenical Elder and knowing that my teenage daughter was present across the crowd. “This is good,” I said. Young people leading multigenerational activism for the sake of our planet. I am so grateful for their leadership.
There is of course nothing good, absolutely nothing, about a banner filled with the names of children who died at residential schools, or stories of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls and Two Spirit persons shared at a community vigil. And yet I found myself so deeply grateful for the grandmothers. The grandmothers, the aunties—the women—who in both places emanated the deepest care and concern, “holding” the children who did not make it home, “holding” the missing and murdered, offering a profound kindness to their memory, kindness that was so horribly denied in life. I was so grateful for their presence, their leadership, their care. I am so grateful.
And the flood of orange. On the playground, in the universities, in churches and church offices, even in business contexts. Wearing orange on September 30, remembering Phyllis Webstad’s story, and participating in the Truth that must precede any possibility of reconciliation. It may be a small gesture, but something is changing in consciousness across the country and this is good.
As we gather at gratitude tables this year, with family and friends, let’s not leave behind the “issues.” Let’s reflect on what we are learning, on what we are privileged to experience, on what we continue to hope for, as sojourners on the pathways of justice. Let’s name that for which we are so thankful.
At KAIROS, our deepest gratitude is for the ways we can be “together” in these journeys. We walk with you, we roll alongside each other, we embrace new friends in these movements towards transformation. And that is very good.
Jennifer Henry has served as the Executive Director of KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives since 2012. She has worked in ecumenical social justice for over 26 years.