Gratitude and the Shape of a Worldview

grapes

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. — Abraham Lincoln, “Thanksgiving Proclamation,” 1863

Today is a great day. In the land of my forefathers, today is a day of gratitude, thanksgiving, and all sorts of food. Today is a day where families gather, good food is prepared communally, served, and eaten together. Around a common table, people will often express in words things they are grateful for. In that regard, it is a special day, but it is a practice we could and perhaps should do regularly.

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Twenty-Six Years. Twenty-Six Life Lessons.

“I don’t wanna grow up; I wanna be a lost boy forever!” — me, age 4

“I want to know, does it bother you?
The low click of the ticking clock.” — Vampire Weekend

Today’s post is a little different. It is a list. A list of twenty-six lessons I have learned. Some since leaving home and traveling across an ocean and making a new life on a new continent, and some from earlier experiences in life. I hope you enjoy it.

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The Vagabond Church

Hitchhiker Jericho

 

vagabond: (adj) having no settled place or home.

Do you ever get that sense? You know, the one where everything goes strange. Nothing feels real or settled or at home; you don’t feel at home, even in your own home? Or perhaps you’ve experienced its brother-feeling: standing on an outcropping above a beautiful landscape, or hearing a piece of music that brings you to tears and you don’t know why. Something beautiful strikes you, both as other and as home. A home you’ve never entered, but one that you are always on the way to? And you get this feeling, this longing to beĀ anywhere but here?

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Becoming an Amateur

fire

But what do I love, when I love Thee? — Saint Augustine, “Confessions”

We become like what we love. So runs the psychology of the ancients. In the process of loving, we behold, admire, and seek to grow similar to those things we love. If you want to be virtuous, love and habituate yourself to be like the virtuous person you know. If you want to be an artist, love what is beautiful. If you love what is beautiful, you might become much more than an artist. You might just become a beautiful soul.

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Silence in the City?

Grace makes little noise.

When was the last time that you were silent? When was the last time you heard that thin, sheer sound of silence? If you live in a city, it might have been a while. If you live in the country, it might have been a while. We fill our lives with noise, with music, with radios and smartphones and commentaries. When was the last time we stopped? When was the last time we were silent and experienced silence?

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The Reign of Peace

They ask me where I’ve been,
And what I’ve done and seen.
But what can I reply
Who know it wasn’t I,
But someone just like me,
Who went across the sea
And with my head and hands
Killed men in foreign lands…
Though I must bear the blame,
Because he bore my name. — Wilfred Gibson, “Back”

A century.

A century. In geological time, it is not that long. In cultural time, in the time of the hidden movement of our collective moral unconscious, it is less than moment. The ready-made graves of the trenches do not appear distant, like the fallen walls of Troy, but they are present. They are present in our abilities to make war on the same technological scale that the First World War initiated. We’ve just gotten better at it. The trenches are present, filled with their dying men and boys, in our faces and our names and our languages. We are the hollow men, still and always.

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