Today I’m grateful for my final day in Australia for some time: for a beautiful summer day, for family generosity, for lugging Christmas presents, a great run in traffic, for ultra-friendly check-in staff, for hummas, lemon lime and bitters, a veggie burger, chats with travellers, and the amazing world of airports. And I’m grateful to be heading back to my beautiful but broken island home to be with my family and to minister with God’s people, for all that the Hawaiian Islands have been, are, and can be to local people and to the world. I crave the hang-loose aloha spirit that reminds of the ancient breath of God, spinning and turning over ocean and mountain, relaxed but purposeful; that breath that is leading me home.
Today I’m grateful for world religions, for the wonderful expressions of God’s love around the world, for bridge builders between culture and religion, for diplomats and other peacemakers, for those who walk violent streets as ecumenical accompanyers, for those who travel the globe in the search of better solutions for humanity, for those in their neighborhoods who strive to learn the ways of peace, for the people who have helped me be filled with more peace, for those who pray for peace, and for companion animals who embody peace.
Today I’m grateful for those who make time for others in the midst of pre-Christmas busyness, for those who desire the best for others, who genuinely find life in creative difference, for those who rebuild their lives and the lives of others, and for those who are willing to risk it all for vocational calling. For planes, trains, and automobiles, and the technological innovation that makes them safer then ever before. And for more fresh fruit, clean, abundant water, and a roof over my head, and those who make these things possible.
Today I’m grateful for people who say the right thing at the right time, who see deep into your soul, who gently reveal their vulnerability and fear, who live with the bittersweet realities of life, who ponder the earth’s mysteries, and who spend time, not in raw task-oriented productivity, but in space-filled reflection and philosophical wondering. I’m thankful too for the gift of newspapers, for the old-school feel of newsprint in the hand, for great journalists who take their task of prophetic wisdom-sharing seriously, for institutions who support and foster creative, independent news media and current affairs programing, and those who spend their lives studying the complex web of global culture, religion and politics.
Today I’m grateful for an amazingly random pastoral conversation with a stranger, a young white Aussie man trying to find his way in the midst of huge obstacles. I’m grateful for his honestly, his courage, his conviction, his conscience, his informal confession, his willingness to risk everything for his friends, for his fighting spirit, his gratitude, his search for identity away from disfunction, and the way he reminded me of the immense societal and cultural challenges that human beings around the world face, the reminder to me of the imprisoned, the lonely, the desperate, and the outcast. Thanks be to you, fellow traveller: you have reminded me that the search for humility lies is cruciform, the search for transformation lies beyond the shadows, and the search for reconciliation starts with each other in active, participant-rich community.
Yesterday, my U.S. time birthday, December 14, I was grateful for some many lovely messages of support, love, and friendship for my birthday from those in Hawai’i and the U.S. mainland, for the heat of an Australian summer, for the reflection and spiritual learning that comes from being in your home country, for missing Hawai’i, for reminders of deeper meaning through my friend’s three week old baby, for my first hold of him, for mittens, and dazed eyes, for whisper-fine hair, for new-human smell, for the patience of sleep deprived parents, and for the love in their eyes.
Today I’m grateful for life, for ministry, for travel, for aloha, for kokua, for grace, for the search for humility, for the abundance of God in the mystery of a simple midweek Eucharist, for a new visa, for ministry, for Julia my wife, partner, friend, biggest fan and advocate, a strong life-giving, life embracing mother, musician, and so much more… For Phoebe and James and their smiling faces over video chat and the technology that supports that and the amazing people who make it possible, for time spent with my dad and stepmom this birthday, for birthday messages, cards, support, prayers, patience, wisdom, love. Abundance in Glory may Christ be seen, above all made all supreme. Delightful abundance all suffice, to come among us, not once, but thrice.
Today I’m grateful for safe travel to Australia, for great conversations with two wonderful strangers, for a great person next to me who shared deeply and intentionally, for a great impromptu conversation in the bulkhead of the plane, for the way people come together when they travel, for the mysterious connection we share as human beings – the Spirit that binds us together in a common purpose. For those who are able to step out of the brokenness of their past and present and discover a new future for themselves, their family, their community, and our world, and for those who encourage us to do the same.
Today I’m grateful for things that can’t adequately be expressed in words. For the joy of Advent 3 – Gaudete Sunday – for the mystery of joy in tears and laughter, in bread and wine, in Scripture and music, in procession and dance, in people’s stories, deep rivers of emotion and trees of wisdom and knowledge. I’m grateful for the Parish of St. Clement, for people seeing beauty in brokenness, and hope in and through challenge, for people seeing dreams and life in and through complexity. And for Christmas lights, babies, tourists, traffic, movement, sounds and sights of people in the city together for a common purpose of family, friendship, wonder and imagination.
Today I’m grateful for the Episcopal Church in Hawaii’s Enculturation Day, for Lei-making, hula, song, history, culture, Mana, Aina, Aloha, Kokua, new learning, great salads, kind words, down-to-earth realism, grappling with difficult topics, revealing of unspoken truths, discoveries of self and other, the names, language, and spirit of the Hawaiian people and others in the Pacific. And for the Parish of St. Clement Annual Christmas Movie Night (Elf!), for wonderful conversation, great Christmas Spirit, honest sharing, committed volunteers (with great smiles and senses of humor), for families as a larger ‘ohana, for dialogue memorized, of childhood imagination and Holiday Dreaminess, and for the prayers of the committed, kind, and faithful.