As I write this, a splendid fall is settling in. After an amazing show of color, I may miss the leaves, but the baring trees are making it easier for me to see the Red Tail Hawks perched on high branches. So, even the seasons are conspiring to teach me about gratitude for the moment before us.
The moment, now, in early November, is a tense moment. The country is engaged in another close and divisive campaign for the presidency. Our liberal religious tradition is deeply committed to the democratic process, but looking at the nature of political dialog today, it’s clear that something of great value has been uprooted from that process in our political system. As Unitarian Universalists, our core belief in the inherent worth and dignity of all is constantly challenged by a political campaign process that insists on demonizing whoever the opposition may be. I find it dizzying to care both about our faith and about a political race, as the latter continually provides me with reasons to disparage others and the former with reasons to love them. And so it is that I find myself returning to a practice of gratitude as a way of bringing back a recognizable grounding to a process that has lost its way.
This month in our services we will be exploring the theme of gratitude. Beyond an annual day of appreciation, or thanks-giving, the practice of gratitude is a radical heart-opening practice that upends the common cultural assumptions of our times. The practice of gratitude invites us, in a teaching attributed Gandhi, to be the change we want to see in the world.
I look forward to being with you on the 4th and 18th for services. On the 11th, there will be small group discussions on the theme of gratitude.