Day 25 – Aug. 2, 2013
Gratitude requires a level of commitment to claim our humanity and is a spiritual practice. The Qur’an says that to be grateful is to receive blessings (14:7). We can see this in our daily lives. When we are not grateful, we lose the ability to captured by wonder, the wonder that surrounds us every day in creation. Sometimes a rose is just a rose. But sometimes a rose is the upstanding burst of color, the ocean fragrance, the point of the big bang for the next rose. In that humbling of our own selves in the majesty of creation, we are grateful. The cycle repeats. We are grateful, open to wonder, humbled, and made grateful. That gratefulness leads to contentment. If we cannot be in awe, if we cannot be grateful, then all we have left is the mundane and all we focus on is problems.
Gratitude opens us to wonder, awe, humanity, and potential. It is a practice, and it should be easy. Rumi talks about being known not only by who surrounds you, but by who avoids you. Surround yourself with people whom you like and whom you wish to be like. Seek those who challenge you, and avoid those who diminish you. The Qur’an, in many places and ways, tells us to command the right and forbid the wrong. We should decide that it was not for us to tell others, but to live the example. The Qur’an also tells us to build in a way that is better. So, what if we commanded goodness for ourselves and forbade evil for ourselves; surround ourselves with good people and people who make us good. Forbid to ourselves those who bring out the worst in ourselves. And when we must interact with those we would rather not, act in such a way that our best is all we have to offer. And at all times, if we want people to assume good intentions from us, we must act with the best of intentions.
Gratitude, then, lets us build a community to achieve something that we cannot alone: the possibility of change. We are not alone. For every difficulty we face as individuals, there are many more individuals who have or are are walking similar paths. For every change for the good we seek to make in the world, there are so many more who wish to walk with us. without gratefulness, our path is narrow and lonely. You are not alone. We are not alone.
Day 26 – Aug. 3 2013
Prayer from Imam Zayn al-Abidin (AS):
My God, the uninterrupted flow of Your graciousness hast distracted me from thanking You! The flood of Your bounty has rendered me incapable of counting Your praises! The succession of Your kind acts has diverted me from mentioning You in laudation! The continuous rush of Your benefits has thwarted me from spreading the news of Your gentle favors! This is the station of him who confesses to the lavishness of favors, meets them with shortcomings, and witnesses to his own disregard and negligence. You art the Clement, the Compassionate, the Good, the Generous, who does not disappoint those who aim for Him, nor cast out from His courtyard those who expect from Him! In Your yard are put down the saddlebags of the hopeful and in Your plain stand the hopes of the help-seekers! So meet not our hopes by disappointing and disheartening and clothe us not in the shirt of despair and despondency!
My God, my thanksgiving is small before Your great boons, and my praise and news-spreading shrink beside Your generosity toward me! Your favors have wrapped me in the robes of the lights of faith, and the gentlenesses of Your goodness have let down over me delicate curtains of might! Your kindnesses have collared me with collars not to be moved and adorned me with neck-rings not to be broken! Your boons are abundant – my tongue is too weak to count them! Your favors are many – my understanding falls short of grasping them, not to speak of exhausting them! So how can I achieve thanksgiving? For my thanking You requires thanksgiving. Whenever I say, ‘To You belongs praise!’, it becomes thereby incumbent upon me to say, ‘To You belongs praise’
My God, as You hast fed us through Your gentleness and nurtured us through Your benefaction, so also complete for us lavish favors, repel from us detested acts of vengeance, and of the shares of the two abodes, give us their most elevated and their greatest, both the immediate and the deferred! To You belongs praise for Your good trial and the lavishness of Your favors, a praise conforming to Your good pleasure and attracting Your great goodness and magnanimity. O All-mighty, O All-generous! By Your mercy, O Most Merciful of the merciful!
Day 27 – Aug. 4, 2013
Like prayer, gratitude is a discipline. It is something we should and must do to polish the mirror of the heart. When we enter that discipline, we start to appreciate the world in a new way. Prayer becomes a shield for the challenges around us, not a veil to keep us from seeing the challenges God is giving us.
We realize that everything is God’s creation and every action should be in service to that creation, because we are servants of the Creator.
We are to obey God, the Prophet, and the Imam. That means we try to do it all, not just that which makes us happy.
Pray, pray, and pray. Remember the name of your Lord. Use that energy for the tasks in front of us, to offer what we have – money, time, knowledge – in service of the greater good.
The discipline of prayer give us possibilities. Possibilities of understanding our role in the world. Possibilities of creating a relationship with God. Possibilities of healthy, whole human relations; strong communities; and protecting creation.