His disciples said to Him, "When will the Kingdom come?"
Jesus said, "It will not come by waiting for it. It will not be a matter of saying 'Here it is' or 'There it is.' Rather, the Kingdom of the Father is spread out upon the earth, and men do not see it."
-Gospel of Thomas 113
Like the questioning disciples, we also find ourselves searching the heavens or scouring the earth for assurances that some ultimate good will come of our life, that our trials will abate, that the dark night will be over. It is the myopic perspective of human perception that fails to perceive the invisible, ineffable Divine presence that is the ever-present background of our existence. We swim in an ocean of love and doubt we are worthy. Every breath an unearned gift, every moment of life a miracle and a grace, and yet well-being eludes us. Like the Samaritan woman at the well who asks Jesus for a drink of water, we hold out our cup for a meager drop and miss the stream of living water that never runs dry.
This is our story. It sounds like a tragedy. Are we doomed to live in lack and limitation or is there way into this kingdom of good that is spread before us? Good news. You and I have the key. Quite simply it is gratefulness. Profound gratefulness. Not the garden variety that is a response to a favor or some good outcome but a resolute awareness of the hidden manna of Divine Presence that is fully present on so-called good days and bad days. This means we are not derailed by adversity but driven deeper inside, where blessings and grace, presence and comfort are found undisturbed. The Apostle Paul said, "in all things, give thanks." Notice he didn't say "for" all things give thanks, but "in" all things be grateful. This is the master way of dealing with life, to remain resolute in awareness of Divine presence, and never let what happens in the world betray our faith.
Gratefulness is rooted in the touchstone of our faith, which despite appearances, holds that there is a Power and Presence and Love, both immanent and transcendent, residing within us and beyond us that can handle anything life throws at us. It is knowing that this Divine presence is more of what and who we are than the body that gets sick, or the career that ends, or the relationship that falters. It is faith in the overcoming power of love to heal any wound. It is faith in knowing that the Answer to the most troubling question, the most disturbing conundrum of life, is only a sincere prayer away.
When we say life is good or God is good, we don't mean there won't be challenges or even some really "bad" stuff to deal with in life. We mean that you and I are inseparable from God, centered in this Divine Love and Peace, and thus no situation can deprive us of this good that is always at hand. When the blessings of life are not in plain view, it takes a reminder that good is still present, a reminder that omnipresence means, there is no spot where God is not. As Henri Nouwen has written, gratitude is a discipline, "because it challenges me to face the painful moments-and gradually to discover in them the pruning hands of God purifying my heart for deeper love, stronger hope, and broader faith.... "
Join us Sunday as we take up the 3rd lesson in our series, and look at the enlightened perspective that allows us to see the good and be grateful for all that arises.
Peace and blessings,