Gratitude

Gratitude

Each week I write a weekly column trying to capture and replay a tiny bit of the incredible conversations and efforts taking place behind the scenes at On Being. Sometimes it's a listener's response on our Facebook page or a gorgeous photo on Instagram, but it's often intriguing. If you'd like to receive my column in your email inbox, subscribe to our weekly newsletter!

"What we need is here."
—Wendell Berry


In one way or another, every wisdom tradition I know says that what we need is here. It's just a matter of opening our eyes and appreciating what I call "secrets hidden in plain sight."

But we can't do that when we're obsessing about the past or the future, or about what we don't have, or allowing a thousand distractions to prevent us from noticing the gift of "here and now."

The biblical narrative of Noah is sparse, occupying only a few pages in the book of Genesis. Yet, it is one of the most perplexing and unexplained chapters of biblical history.

It is a world destroyed because of a people descended into irredeemable violence. The violence that began with Cain and Abel has so consumed the Earth that God chooses to destroy his creation rather than repair it.

Each week I write a weekly column trying to capture and replay a tiny bit of the incredible conversations and efforts taking place behind the scenes at On Being. Sometimes it's a listener's response on our Facebook page or a gorgeous photo on Instagram, but it's often intriguing. If you'd like to receive my column in your email inbox, subscribe to our weekly newsletter!

To feel at home in my own skin... To feel at home on the face of the earth...

I sometimes think that those are the two deepest yearnings in our lives. What I know for sure is that life becomes very painful when I don't feel at home with who I am, or with the rich diversity of beings with whom I share this planet.

How does one leave home in peace?

Passover, which begins on Monday evening this year, can offer some clues to answering this most universal of questions. But when I left Israel at 18, determined to start a new life not as a Jew but as a human being, I wasn’t ready to receive them.

When President Abraham Lincoln declared the last Thursday of November as “a day of thanksgiving and praise” for the nation, he did so in the midst of war, 1863. He asked people to thank God for “bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come.”

Whenever we post a photo quote or a commentary on gratitude, people respond in clicks and comments. At this moment, we as a culture and a people who have so much but experience so many modern-day difficulties yearn for the opportunity to pause and be thankful. Gratefulness is baked in to our DNA it seems to me.

“People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child — our own two eyes. All is a miracle.”

Watch Stephen Colbert's moving tribute to his mother, offering insights into his mother's Roman Catholic faith and her deeply held values of gratitude, family, and fun.

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