Thursday, August 03, 2006

My favorite word of reverence

CC asks for essays on the subject of “Religion words that move us, religion words that don't.” The ChaliceBlog: No, seriously, the UU Blog Carnival is getting close For me, it’s no contest- the most profoundly moving word is “Thanks”. Thanksgiving is my favorite prayer and my favorite holiday.

The church I was raised in stressed the petitionary prayer- heal the sick, feed the hungry, and pay the rent. The Bible specifically instructs you to use this type of prayer. When I first started questioning what I was taught, it came to me that this was a very negative process. It comes from the common Christian view of the world as a broken place that needs fixing, the view that holds “worldly” as a pejorative. Petitionary prayers reinforce this by forcing you to concentrate on misery, keeping your mind on what’s wrong with the world, your mate, yourself. They require you to focus on unhappiness. They require you to believe that you’re powerless to change things on your own... simultaneously telling you that you can’t make a difference, and setting you up for failure if you try. Even if unconsciously, they set performance standards for God, making your love conditional. In some cultures it’s not unconscious- they will neglect or even vandalize their God’s shrine if he doesn’t come through!

Prayers of gratitude are altogether different. They force you to concentrate on all the innocent delights she offers us. They leave your soul refreshed by the memory of joy, not anxious about a future that could go wrong. Gratitude for gifts bestowed is pure and unconditional- as unconditional as the love of the Divine that keeps pouring those gifts out. And there is so much to be grateful for! I right about it in detail here: CUUMBAYA: How do we know God loves us?

A grateful soul is a happy soul; one cannot be depressed while remembering joys. A happy soul wants everyone else to be happy, too, and is in his/her most charitable and giving mood. A grateful soul knows that they are truly loved, and will- at least at that moment- share that love with the world... may we all be more grateful!

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