In the winter I am writing about, there is much darkness. Darkness of nature, darkness of event, darkness of the spirit. The sprawling darkness of not knowing. We speak of the light of reason. I would speak here of the darkness of the world, and the light of _____. But I do not know what to call it. Maybe hope. Maybe faith, but not a shaped faith - only, say a gesture, or a continuum of gestures. But probably it is closer to hope, that is more active, and far messier than faith must be. Faith, as I imagine it, is tensile, and cool, and has no need of words. Hope, I know, if a fighter and a screamer.
-Mary Oliver, Unstream
The past few weeks we have talked about faith, trust and hope. We talked about pure-in-heart trust that we are all extricably linked. These words from Mary Oliver speak to our hearts these days and remind us that hope is an action, a gesture, and as she say,s a fighter and a screamer.
Grief and fear, and those that use grief and fear as a tool of power, want us to stay immobilized. Grief and fear thrives on isolation and anxiety. The thing that I have found that cannot survive in isolation and anxiety, is gratitude. Gratitude calls us out of ourselves, out of our over-worked minds, and leads us into connection, relationship and action.
As I’m sure we are all aware this week is also Thanksgiving. As I have learned more about power, oppression and colonization in our country I have come to struggle more and more with the origins of our Thanksgiving holiday. Yet, the practice of giving thanks is incredibly powerful. So I struggle with this tension. A need for a set-apart time and season for gratitude and thankfulness and the horrific history of colonization. I am especially aware of this tension this year as the Native Nations of Standing Rock continue to defend their land and water rights and protect their sacred ground. I have no answers to this tension other than to name it and recognize the imbalance. Today, I invite us into this tension and struggle as we spend time with our diverse families. It seems, especially these days, that life in general has a tension and struggle just below the surface. It is for this very reason that I think we need to practice gratitude as a tool of hope, as a tool to fight isolation and anxiety, as a tool of faithfulness. In addition, here are a few ways that we can support Standing Rock as we stand in this tension, How to Give, and to Give Thanks, to Standing Rock.
As you gather with your family and friends today, I encourage you to practice gratitude as a way to celebrate common ground, community and relationship. I also encourage you to offer a prayer of thanksgiving and safety for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.