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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Good in the Bad

“What difficult event from your life can you now genuinely give thanks for?”  That was the Thanksgiving question from our facilitator.

“This could get depressing really fast,” I thought to myself.

As usual, I was wrong.  As person after person spoke, I found myself inspired more than anything.  People have been through a lot—there were stories of health crises, pink slips, divorces, deaths and academic failures.  In general, when more time had elapsed since the event, and when people had done some “inner work”, there was less pain and more gratitude.  There were still scars. But amazingly, people were able to find the good in the bad.  There was genuine gratitude even for the hard things.

There are blessings to be found even in the challenges.  As people spoke, this quote from Helen Keller came back to me:  “I thank God for my handicaps, for through them I have found myself, my work, and my God.”  Painful events can lead us to things well worth finding.

This Thanksgiving, a couple of suggestions.  The first is to sing.  Check out our latest e-news for some ideas on how to do that around the Thanksgiving table.  The second is to include the hard things in your thanksgiving.  Along with the blessings, reflect on the struggles you have faced.  Is there anything in that story for which you can genuinely give thanks?

Tell us, Poet, what do you do?
I praise.  But the deadly and the monstrous things, how can you bear them?
I praise.  But what is nameless, what is anonymous, how can you call upon it?
I praise.  What right have you to be true in every disguise, 
behind every mask?
I praise. How is it that the calm and the violent things
like star and storm know you for their own?
Because I praise.
Rainer Maria Rilke

Doug Wysockey-Johnson
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  1. A would be Muslim terrorist was captured in Oregon this weekend. I wonder if the writer who was highly angry at a minister who wanted to burn a Koran will be just as angry at this terrorist or will she simply yawn and say poor
    thing? Bill Morgan

  2. Thanks very much for your words on " The Good in the Bad". Much appreciated. Especially the words of Rilke. For me, I sing and chant. And I invite others to sing and chant. Somehow, when we do this together in the waves of sound that we create, our presence and God's presence becomes a little more clear and felt.
    Blessings on your work.
    Br. Stefan

  3. I have a trinity of life transformations that have deepened my faith and heightened my sense of call as a lay person. My mother died with only me to bring her favorite prayers, psalms and words of comfort. I realized that a lay person could do more.

    Six months later I ended up in a rehab section after falling and seriously damaging both ankles. Rehab would take almost 3 years of therapy and personal training to get almost normal mobility. I learned what it feels like to experience total dependance and also trauma. These lessons were transformative as I make hospital visits and take home communions to shut-ins. People need to experience hope and God's love.

    Now my husband suffers from stage 4 kidney failure. My hospice training for my mother, pastoral care work, life experience and sharpened faith are taking me into the most meaningful and loving experience. I will care for my husband and his dialysis treatments. As he has nephrotic syndrome, he will suffer effects of malnutrition ultimately. I sense peace beyond all understanding. There will come a time that I surrender his suffering body to the eternal love of God.

    I realize that God is with us in bad times as well as good. The loss of my mother and yet the presence of her in my memories are blessings and signs of eternal life. Struggling to learn to walk meant that all things are possible with the help of God. Finally we cannot change our health problems or control them. We can turn things over to God to help us deal with issues and to find peace.

  4. To Sandy-- I am sorry to hear of your misfortunes. My thoughts and prayers are with you. Sincerely, Bill Morgan.

  5. I lost my dad to a car accident when I was 19 and my mom 5 years later to cancer. I'm now 45. I'm not sure I will ever be able to give thanks for those events but there are wonderful events in my life that I am quite certain would not have occurred in the way they did if my parents were alive. I do give thanks for those. I offer that thankfulness in a very guarded way though. Dealing with my parents deaths is something that I think I'll always be doing to some extent and when I am thankful for something that is directly related to them I tend to shut it down in someways. Perhaps in some way I'm trying to not lessen their importance. It's an ongoing struggle with me. Life is good though.

  6. Todd: Thanks for this very real response. You have articulated much better than I what I was trying to say.....not giving thanks for stuff that is just plain bad. But being able to find good in the bad.