“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.” —Philippians 4:4-9
Philippians 4:4-9 is one of my favorite scripture passages. In saying that, I also admit that sometimes I forget to rejoice and give thanks in all things. There are just some days that it seems there is not a whole lot for which to be thankful, especially if I get caught up in watching the news. Sigh . . . Is there no good news today?
Well, yes, there is good news. The Good News that Paul speaks of is that God is always near, as near as our own beating hearts as the dwelling place of Christ, God’s incarnate Word living within and among us. Keeping my perspective intentionally focused on prayer and faith, I feel a significant difference in how I go through my day. Sometimes I begin my day with a prayer walk, repeating a mantra, such as, “With each step peace,” (or “grace” or “love”). When I remember to do this, my day is filled with an increased awareness for those moments of grace, because I am more prepared to notice them. I am also more prepared to notice the hard things—the sorrows, the brokenness around me—with a deeper sense of compassion.
This morning I was introduced to a poem by John Austin, titled “Awareness.”[i] It speaks to what I refer to as perspective. How do I choose remain aware of what is happening around me? All is not bad, and all is not good. Life is not that simple.
Austin describes “awareness” as a noun that is “constant” and “without condition or agenda, silent, patient, unrelenting in her embrace . . . until nothing is left but her shimmering wakefulness, this simple love for what is.” When I can let go of worry through prayer and awareness of God’s love, both within and around me, I’m better able to respond in ways that are consistent with God’s peace and purpose for the world. For that, I can rejoice and give thanks.
May awareness be your companion this season of Thanksgiving, and may you be blessed with a deep sense of love and peace.
[i] Awareness, John Austin https://www.thehouseofyoga.com/magazine/awareness-john-austin
Rev. Dr. Donna Patterson serves as Anam Cara Chaplain in Residence for Scarritt Bennett Center and directs the Center’s Soul Work program.