My Psalm 67
Winston Churchill once said: “Every man should ask himself each day whether he is not too readily accepting negative solutions.” In 2010 the United States of America spent over 683.7 million dollars in defense spending or 4.7% of the gross domestic product (GDP). That sounds like a great deal of money, and it is, and it might appear that by doing so, the USA is a nation that has readily accepted the negative solution of preparing for battle in approaching its future.
Consider this, however. In the same year, the United States of America spent 309 million dollars or 17.4% of the GDP on national health expenditures. Taking care of one’s health is certainly considered a positive solution. Would Churchill, then, be pleased with such an attempt at leadership? Would one of the twentieth century’s greatest leaders like where we as individuals and a nation are leading ourselves and the world that follows?
As he and England aligned themselves with the United States in December of 1941, he acknowledged: ‘There is only one duty, only one safe course, and that is to try to be right and not to fear to do or say what you believe to be right. That is the only way to deserve and to win the confidence of our great people in these days of trouble.”
All too often we live our lives doing just the opposite – trying to say what we feel others believe is right and not necessarily what we think is right. All too often we live for an acceptable self-image, not accepted by ourselves but by others. Why have we given such control and judgment of our lives to the masses?
Stand in a crowded room, train station, lobby of a concert, or a sports event and you’ll see people greeting each other. Standard conversation includes “Hi” or “How are you?” Depending on the response you will then hear “Sorry to hear that” or “Really? I didn’t know that.” What you will seldom, if ever, hear is “What are you thankful for today?”
Most spiritual philosophies focus on the goodness one can find in life. If it is not already present, a person is encouraged to meditate, change their habits, or practice a healthier lifestyle. The emphasis on finding what is good minimizes the perception of what is not and leads to a more satisfied individual. Even if their life situation has not altered dramatically, their response to it has.
Those believing in the Abrahamic religions, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity, are called to give praise and thanksgiving daily. Somehow, though, that calling has become a litany of complaints and many prayers are just prayers of supplication. There are four basic types of prayers. Prayers of adoration are those prayers that praise God while prayers of confessions are, no surprise, prayers in which someone confesses something. The confession may be an actual deed, acknowledgment of being human, or recognition of needing God. Prayers of supplication are sometimes called petition prayers because they involve petitioning to God for assistance or asking for help. Finally, we have thanksgiving prayers. These are often seen when someone has won an Oscar at the Academy Awards or illustrated by a football player kneeling on the goal line after scoring the winning touchdown.
Recently, on a television reality dance program one of the judges made an interesting and very true statement. Mary Murphy, a former professional ballroom dancer and champion stated: “We are called every day to make a masterpiece of our lives.”
Dr Stephen R Covey wrote a very successful book, recently re-released, entitled “The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People”. Dr Covey began with people assuming responsibility for their lives, having a goal and making it a priority, and then working to make that goal a reality. He encouraged and advocated for effective communication and being creative. Effective communication does not focus on making one’s self heard but in hearing: “Seek first to understand, then to be understood”. Finally, a highly successful person is one that reviews past performance, is continually trying to improve and not resting on one’s laurels.
It is not that difficult to focus on the positive while assuming responsibility for one’s life. If you are reading this, then you have internet access. That means that somewhere in your life is electricity, either to operate a computer or charge a cell phone or tablet. You probably are not starving since a truly hungry person would be out foraging for food. Nudity is still illegal in most places except nudist colonies and the private home so you most likely have something to wear. You may not be a perfect size whatever or have a head full of gorgeous hair or have the “golden ratio” of beauty faces are suppose to have to be considered star quality but you do have something positive in your life that enabled you to take a few minutes and read this.
The question is … Did you give thanks for it? When was the last time you said a prayer of thanksgiving? Don’t think my finger is pointing just at you. Today I ran errands, ate, resolved the mystery of a lost sock, did my morning constitutional walk, had a delightful lunch, and was reminded by the dog of something I had forgotten to do. Did I remember to give thanks for those things while doing them? Sadly, I only gave thanks for the lunch and that is just because it is a habit from childhood. In fact, I argued with the dog (Yes, I hold conversations with my dog!) and then only went to check to prove to him I was right. Fortunately, my dog is very god-like and did not demand an apology or even rub it in my face. He simply went and took a nap while I cleaned up my responsibility.
All too often we take life for granted. We take what we have as a given and spend a great deal of time trying to accumulate more or wish for it, at least. Mary Murphy was right. We are called each day to make it a masterpiece. We are called to prayer. We are called to give thanks.
My Psalm 67
O Lord, thank you.
For all I have had, have, and will have.
You have given us life.
We can want nothing more than your Creation.
As I sing you praise, I proclaim:
English- Thank you, Thanks
French- Merci (Thank you very much= Merci Beaucoup)
Japanese- (Domo) Arigato (ah-ree-gah’-toh) or written ありがとう
Chinese- do jeh, daw-dyeh
German- Danke sehr
Thai- Khop Khun Mak Kha
Russian- Spasiba (spah-see’-boh)
Korean- written 감사합니다 gamsahabnida
Hebrew- Toda (toh-dah’)
Greek- Efharisto (ef-har-ris-tou’)
May my life be a living thanksgiving, dear Lord.