Expressing Gratitude: Civility and Human Rights
Scripture: 1 Timothy 4:4
“For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, provided it is received with Thanksgiving.”
This passage reminds me of a woman I’ll call “Debra.” Debra currently lives in the women’s prison in Denver. Like so many in prison, she was born into an unsafe family system. As she grew up, she learned some tough and creative survival skills. As an adult, she landed in prison. And, like so many in prison, Debra carried a deep sense of shame and low self-worth.
The friend who told me this story is a spiritual director and has been meeting with Debra regularly—a few times each month for the past few years—for deep listening, conversation, and soul care. Over time, in these sacred conversations and the healing power of healthy relationship, Debra began to feel heard, seen, and deeply respected. Her sense of shame and low self-worth began to heal.
Debra began to see herself—and others—through God’s eyes. And her heart broke open as she saw others’ pain and suffering, and also saw their worth. She especially began thinking a lot about people who were homeless.
Debra said to her spiritual director: “I know how I got here. I did something wrong, and now I’m in prison. But even in prison I have a bed, a warm blanket, and enough food to eat. I have a roof over my head. I have clothing. I am warm and dry. Homeless people did nothing wrong. Yet they don’t have a bed, warm blankets, or enough food to eat. They don’t have a roof over their head like I do. They struggle to stay safe, warm and healthy. Compared to the homeless, I live in a gated community.”
Debra was moved to reach out. So she gathered together a group of women and started a knitting ministry. They knit scarves, hats, and mittens for the homeless. They knit with the spirit of gratitude and compassion, from their abundance, to help meet a few basic human needs for others.
Debra came to believe today’s scripture—about herself, and about others—and she was moved to action.
Father-Mother God, Thank you that all your creation is made in your image of goodness. Thank you that in your love, we all belong and are home. Help us recognize and appreciate our abundance. Break our hearts open to others’ needs, and give us the courage to respond with compassion and kindness. Amen.