Prayerful Tuesday – An Attitude of Gratitude

Psalm 100 (The Message)

A Thanksgiving Psalm

 1-2 On your feet now—applaud God!
Bring a gift of laughter,
sing yourselves into his presence.

Know this: God is God, and God, God.
He made us; we didn’t make him.
We’re his people, his well-tended sheep.

Enter with the password: “Thank you!”
Make yourselves at home, talking praise.
Thank him. Worship him.

For God is sheer beauty,
all-generous in love,
loyal always and ever.

This past Sunday at Queen Anne Christian Church, we celebrated in song, word, prayer Thanksgiving.  We also decorated the church for Advent, which starts next Sunday.  And we have a new and tasty tradition at Queen Anne; the kids decorate gingerbread houses, while the parents enviously look on.  Cherry S is a baker first class and she makes the gingerbread, puts together the houses, parents bring the candy for decorating and then we turn our budding artists loose.  I must say they have a great time and the houses look wonderful.

DSCF0860 DSCF0864 Morgan

As I sat and watched the kids, took video and a few pictures I couldn’t help but think about the worship service.  The Scripture was Psalm 100 and Pastor Laurie’s reading from The Message gave me much to think about.  First of all Psalm 100 was my father’s favorite and it was read, from the King James Version (KJV), at the beginning of every Thanksgiving meal in our house.  But when I heard Pastor Laurie’s reading I was struck by the joy and celebration that resides in this Psalm that I hadn’t heard before.  I felt the celebration inherent in this Psalm. However the words in Verse 4 jolted me upright.  “4 Enter with the password: “Thank You!” Make yourselves at home, talking praise, Thank him. Worship him.”  I thought what you have to have a password to enter G-ds presence, is not my gratitude and thanks enough, now I have to know a password.  Well it is a simple password, and one I learned to use when I was a child.  Still I have to say “thank you” to enter into G-d’s home!  Why would G-d want my gratitude?

What does it mean to acknowledge your gratitude, out loud, and/or in writing? Well the expression is a witnessed event; people hear or read of your gratitude.  They learn you are capable of good will by acknowledging the works of others.  They in turn are blessed with your gratitude and that encourages them to also wish to express their thanks for their blessings.  One person expresses thanksgiving for a small act of kindness, and the recipient, or someone who observes it is then empowered to offer their thanks to someone else and the boundary of the circle of kindness extends into infinity.

You might think saying thank you for a job well done, or a gift, does little to help you or anyone else, but you’d be wrong.  Remembering your blessings grows an “attitude of gratitude” within all that you do throughout your life.  In the late 1940’s Bing Crosby sang a simple song in the move “White Christmas,” Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep, and for many years it was a popular tune.  The premise is an easy one to remember, counting your blessings is more productive than counting all the wrongs you’ve received.  In fact once you begin counting you discover that the hurts and wrongs far fewer than blessings.

For me I have all too often let anger and resentment cloud my vision preventing me from counting my blessings and that has resulted in some very unpleasant times in my life.  One of the spiritual practices I have been doing on my life journey is to change that pattern of behavior.  Now every morning I offer a gratitude to the Divine Spirit before I even get out of bed to start my busy day.  And every evening I end my day with a review of the blessings I received during the day.  It has made my life much more joyful and I am now more likely to see the face of the Divine in all that I do.  So I have two questions for you to ponder this week:

1. What gets in your way of expressing gratitude?  And . . .
2. Have you counted your blessings lately?

It is a joyful practice to count your blessings and say thank you.  It is not really a password; it’s a way of life, to live in gratitude for the blessings we receive day in and day out, offering our lives as a blessing to those around us.  Can you imagine the kind of world we’d live if everyone just counted their blessings?

So my gratitude for this Tuesday Morning is that I am grateful for the ability to write to each of you, I am grateful for the blessings I’ve received from my loving husband and family.  I am grateful for the comforting presence of my companion animals, the fur kids Fred and Suzie, and the feathered kids Cuddles and George. And I am simply grateful for my life, for being alive today, at this moment.  May all of you remember all of your blessings this week.

 Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Ruth Jewell, ©November 25, 2013

Prayerfull Tuesday, November 19, 2013



Yesterday seemed like a perfect day to read poetry.  The rain was coming down, the wind was blowing, Suzie was snuggled in my lap so I opened up two of my favorite books of poetry, Thirst by Mary Oliver,[1] and a book of Celtic prayers collected by Alexander Carmichael titled New Moon of the Seasons, Prayers from the Highlands and Islands.[2] A poem of Mary Oliver’s and a prayer collected by Alexander Carmichael struck me as I read them.  The first was a Celtic Prayer:

The Three
The Three who are over me,
The Three Who are below me,
The Three Who are above me here,
The Three Who are above me yonder;
The Three Who are in the earth,
The Three Who are in the air,
The Three Who are in the heaven,
The Three Who are in the great pouring sea

The Celtic people lived close to land and they cherished it as a gift from G-d. They saw the creator in every plant and animal and rock. They saw the grace of G-d in rain and snow, the roar of the sea and in the breath of spring air.  This simple prayer is an acknowledgment that G-d, Christ, and the Holy Spirit surround them.  G-d wasn’t “out there” looking down at them, no G-d was surrounded them in grace and blessings of many shapes and colors.  As I watch the rain fall outside my window and feel Suzie’s warm breathing in my lap I understood what this prayer of gratitude meant to fisherman, a farmer, a mother tending the hearth.  G-d is here, now, with me, with you, with us all.  For the Celts and for us today G-d lives beside and within each of us.

Mary Oliver’s poem Praying is a lovely companion to the Celtic prayer.  Praying reminds us that prayer doesn’t have to be framed with elaborate words.  Prays really happen in those moments when your mind has no words so your heart speaks.  Some of the greatest prayers are never written down; simple words of gratitude for the healing of a friend, or gasp of awe at the beauty of a sunrise, or joy of a laughing child are beloved prayers of the heart.  Here is;

by Mary Oliver

It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.

I invite you to read the Celtic prayer, and Mary Oliver’s poem.  Look around you; do you see the work of G-d, Christ, and Holy Spirit in the everyday living of your life?   Where does your heart speak when your mind has no words?  Let the simple words of gratitude, sorrow, or joy shaped in your heart form the bases for a prayer that speaks to the Divine that walks beside you.  May the all surrounding presence of The Three be your comforter in times of crises and dance with them when joy rings in heart.

Ruth Jewell, ©November 19, 2013

[1] Mary Oliver; Thirst, Beacon Press, Boston, MA, 2006, pg 37

[2] Alexander Carmichael; New Moon of the Seasons, Prayers from the Highlands and Islands, Floris Books, Edinburgh, Scotland, Great Britain, 1986, pg 74

Prayerful Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Prayers for the Philippines 

(Bullit Marquez/AP/NBC News) Bea Joy Ortega and her Mother Emily
(Bullit Marquez/AP/NBC News)
Bea Joy Ortega and her Mother Emily

As Typhoon Hayian struck the Philippines this last weekend I, like so many others, sent my prayers flying that the people would be safe.  Of course not everyone was.  People in the millions have had everything they know ripped from them by this storm, which so many say is the largest ever to form.  More than 10,000 people have lost their lives.  The survivors have little food or water, and no shelter.  As people from all over the world respond with aid the people of the Philippines, as people try to leave the islands for safer places a miracle occurs.  A woman gives birth in an airport. Bea Joy Ortega is born after her Mother Emily swims to safety.  A baby is always a sign of hope, a gift of promise.  In the hardest of times with death all around life still grows and makes her presence known.

I know there will be those who will say the people of the Philippines must have done something horrible to deserve this act of G-d.  I know there will be those who say G-d only does such acts to punish the evil deeds people do.  Well I say Bologna!  G-d doesn’t punish innocent people in such brutal ways.  No one ever deserves to be in the middle of a disaster.  We are not uneducated people who have to ascribe to everything that goes wrong in our lives, or the life of our planet, to some mysterious force we happen to call god.  G-d is much bigger than that.  G-d was with Emily holding her up and helping her swim to a safer place to give birth to a miracle, Bea Joy.

G-d was with each victim who died during the storm and heard their cries of fear and cried with them.  The G-d I know is with them still, in the lines waiting for food and water, in the hearts of mothers and fathers who hold their surviving children and family members, in the hearts of those who come bringing food, water, and medicines.  The G-d I know is in the hearts of people across the world reaching out with their donations.  G-d is in bodies of the volunteers, giving them strength and courage with support and comfort.

No G-d has not abandoned the Philippines rather G-d is in every hand that offers help in some way to a people who are in. So this Prayerful Tuesday I ask that each of you offer up a prayer of your own for the Philippines. G-d will hear and deliver those prayers.

This week the following prayer was posted on Facebook by Christians Tired of Being Misrepresented, a prayer that in the midst of disaster we hear the voice of G-d even in the worst of places and most difficult of times. I offer it to you as my prayer. It is a prayer of peace, a reminder that G-d is not punishing or delivering vengeance, rather G-d is there in your pain and sorry and when you are still you will hear G-ds voice and feel G-ds presence.

God Speaks to Man

I speak to you. Be still – Know I am God.
I spoke to you when you were born. Be still – Know I am God.
I spoke to you at your first sight. Be still – Know I am God.
I spoke to you at your first word. Be still – Know I am God.
I spoke to you at your first thought. Be still – Know I am God.
I spoke to you at your first love. Be still – Know I am God.
I spoke to you at your first song. Be still – Know I am God.
I speak to you through the grass of the meadows. Be still – Know I am God.
I speak to you through the trees of the forests. Be still – Know I am God.
I speak to you through the valleys and the hills. Be still – Know I am God.
I speak to you through the Holy Mountains. Be still – Know I am God.
I speak to you through the rain and snow. Be still – Know I am God.
I speak to you through the waves of the sea. Be still – Know I am God.
I speak to you through the dew of the morning. Be still – Know I am God.
I speak to you through the peace of the evening. Be still – Know I am God.
I speak to you through the splendor of the sun. Be still – Know I am God.
I speak to you through the brilliant stars. Be still – Know I am God.
I speak to you through the storm and the clouds. Be still – Know I am God.
I speak to you through the thunder and lightning. Be still – Know I am God.
I speak to you through the mysterious rainbow. Be still – Know I am God.
I will speak to you when you are alone. Be still – Know I am God.
I will speak to you through the Wisdom of the Ancients. Be still – Know I am God.
I will speak to you at the end of time. Be still – Know I am God.
I will speak to you when you have seen my Angels. Be still – Know I am God.
I will speak to you throughout Eternity. Be still – Know I am God.
I speak to you. Be still – Know I am God.

[God Speaks to Man – Essene Gospel of Peace]

Ruth Jewell, ©November 12, 2013

Prayerful Tuesday, November, 5, 2013

Open My Eyes That I Might See


Autumn Glory
Autumn Glory

Last week John and I took a train ride to Vancouver, BC and while we hoped for some sun it was even cloudier there that at home.  As we walked through Stanley Park I was afraid all my pictures would be gray and drab and then I saw this one.  Yes, if the day had been bright and sunny I suppose this picture would have been brighter. But, the trees in their autumn finery reflecting in the pool made a light all their own.  I just had to “open” my eyes to see it.

Today for Prayerful Tuesday I am inviting you to open your eyes and open your hearts and minds as we practice Visio Divina using the above picture. There is no set time frame for the guided prayer, but I do suggest at least 15 minutes and up to thirty minutes.

  1. As your prayer begins, take a few moments to open your heart and mind to God.
  2. When you are ready, slowly look and notice the image, taking your time to let feelings and thoughts come to you as you take in forms, colors, lines, textures, and shapes.
  3. What does it look like, or remind you of?
  4. What do you find yourself drawn to?
  5. What do you like and not like?
  6. What are your initial thoughts?
  7. What feelings are evoked?
  8. At this point in your prayer simply notice your responses without judgment or evaluation. If you don’t like the image, or the feelings it evokes, notice that this is your initial response and continue to stay open to the image and the prayer.
  9. If you have an immediate idea as to what the image means, again, simply acknowledge that this is your initial response and stay open to “the more” as the prayer unfolds.
  10. As you expand your prayer, return to the image with an open heart and mind. What new thoughts, meanings, and/or feelings arise for you; what initial impressions have expanded deepened.
  11. Explore more fully the meanings that have risen up within you, and the feelings associated with the image and its colors and forms.
  12. Be aware of any assumptions or expectations you bring to the image. No how you responded to the image — delight, disgust, indifference, confusion — prayerfully ponder the reason for your various responses and what they might mean for you.
  13. As you go deeper into your prayer, open yourself to what the image might reveal to you.
  14. What does it and the Holy Spirit want to say, evoke, make known, or express to you as you attend to it in quiet meditation?
  15. Become aware of your feelings, thoughts, desires, and meanings brought up by the image: how they are directly connected to your life.
  16. Does the image hold an important meaning or value for you: does it remind you of an important event or season, or suggest a new or different way of being?
  17. What desires and longings are evoked in your prayer?
  18. How do you find yourself wanting to respond to what you are experiencing?
  19. Offer a prayer to G-d in ways that the image evokes: gratitude, supplication, wonder, lament, confession, dance, song, praise, etc.
  20. As bring your prayer to close, bring to mind or jot down in a journal (whatever way is most helpful for you) the insights you want to remember, any actions you are invited to take, wisdom you hope to embody, or any feelings or thoughts you wish to express and remember.

Close your prayer by resting for a moment in God’s grace and love.  May you see with newly open eyes, heart and mind many new images of G-d in the coming week.

Ruth Jewell, ©November 5, 2013, Picture taken by Ruth Jewell 2013.10.22, prayer practice of Visio Divina adapted from a workshop given by Rev. Nancy Gowler Johnson.