Gratitude for a Messy Life
Sometimes, it feels like the world is on fire. Less than a week after the Keystone Pipeline experienced a major oil spill, damaging sacred indigenous land, Nebraska approved to continue construction. It would feel like irony, except for the fact that after America's history of violence and terror against Native Americans, an oil spill on sacred ground doesn't feel all that unexpected. In other aspects of American life, things don't feel much better. Our president is name-calling totalitarian political leaders, which is the least egregious thing he's done this week. It's getting colder and darker, which is particularly hard for those without permanent housing, or reliable access to heat.
Maybe in your personal life, things are difficult. You're mourning the loss of a loved one during the holiday season. You're dreading visiting family that don't appreciate or understand you. You're personal or professional life is messy and complicated. As we approach Thanksgiving, a season of gratitude and abundance, I am reminded that America's got issues. We all do. It's hard to feel abundance in seasons of slim harvest.
So this year, I'm letting my gratitude be complicated by ambiguity. Life is not a zero sum game, and no one is obligated to set their fear or pain aside for the sake of "family togetherness". Maybe, this year, in addition to sharing what makes us grateful, we also take courage to name that which we would like to wipe from the face of the earth, and commit to doing something about it. Perhaps we name our grief even as we lift our glasses and forks in celebration of the goodness that is present among us. Perhaps we honor abundance by refusing to ignore or mask or pretend away what is going on in the world. In our lives. In our souls. After all, doesn't our longing point to the abundance of love we have in us? Doesn't our heartache for the world show us where our passions live? Can't our anger lead us to live justly?
This year, I am grateful for a complicated life. For pleasure, pain, disappointment, love, need, rage, passion and every shade between. May we all live with the abundance of a messy life.