Luke 17:11-19 offers us the story where 10 lepers ask Jesus for help. All 10 are cured of leprosy as they were headed out to follow his instruction to present themselves to the priests. Only one, a Samaritan (foreigner, not a chosen person) turns back to say “Thank you.” Jesus tells this one that his faith has saved him.
In pondering this, it comes to mind that all 10 were cured/ healed of their leprosy. Why call a attention to the one who returned to say “Thank you.” So, thanks is obviously not required to be cleansed. Asking and then starting to follow through on the instructions seems to be enough. What is different about the one?
My guess is that this leper was healed/saved/made whole at a deeper level. He returned to the source of his healing. He was told “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.” Just being cleansed of the disease was good, but it seems that expressing gratitude enhanced the result.
I also have to remember Jesus in this story at times. You know, those times when I do something to help another and get no thanks or acknowledgement. Jesus didn’t take away the healing for the 9 that went on their merry way without thanking him. He did offer additional blessing and encouragement for the one who did return. If we would do as Jesus did, we don’t offer help only to those who say “Thank you.” But, as one who is helped, we need to know that there are great benefits to giving thanks.
Today’s thought is brief, but incredibly deep and penetrating: Leave God for God.
Let go of the the God I know, in order to know the God that is. If I can comprehend God, that’s not the full picture. It’s all so overwhelming. It makes me understand the “fear of the Lord” — not quaking fear of being punished, but awe of something, someone who is so far beyond knowing. Everytime I reach a place where I explain God, I come another edge of realization that I don’t know anything at all.
On a more concrete level, leaving God for God is something that Vincent [de Paul] seemed to understand. Leave church to serve and be church. That’s not to skip out all the time, but to realize that one must reach out and be church, and serve those around us. Sitting in church, going to mass, singing, etc can certainly act to ground us but then we must be moved to action or we’ve missed the point. Leave church and take care of the sick/poor/hurting/broken. Then return to give thanks. “Eucharist”, as I understand it means “thanksgiving.” Difficult to remember at times.
I found the following in today’s email reflection from Richard Rohr:
We seem to think God will love us if we change. Paul clearly knows that God loves us so we can change. The only people who change, who are transformed, are people who feel safe, who feel their dignity, and who feel loved. When you feel loved, when you feel safe, and when you know your dignity, you just keep growing! That’s what loving people do for one another–offer safe relationships in which we can change. This kind of love is far from sentimental; it has real power. In general, you need a judicious combination of safety and necessary conflict to keep moving forward in life.
This is a “thank you” to those who have given me the time and space to feel safe, to feel I do have dignity and let me know that I am loved. I’m not going to name names, but I do thank you. I only hope that I can bring these things to someone else.
With my broken ankle/leg, I’ve had an excess of time and space to obsess. That also means I’ve have time to reflect and focus on the graceful side of my life. It all began when I fell…
January 9, near Rainbow Falls, Hilo, Hawaii: When I tripped, slipped, missed my step, whatever happened and I felt myself crashing to the somewhat muddy ground, I distinctly remember my camera (a nice Canon 6D) swinging through the air, and I thought “Crap! I’m going to break my camera!”– when I landed I was pretty sure it was the left leg that had the break, but I wanted someone to check on the camera!
For once in my life, I didn’t say any really bad words as I lay on the ground, pretty much screaming/crying. Gratitude for discovering that what came out of my mouth was more of a prayer and a plea to make it stop hurting rather than cursing the situation. That peaceful spirit I prayed for some many years ago seems to be trying to manifest itself. And, gratitude that I was using my pancake lens and the camera and lens were unharmed in the incident. And, it’s stretching it a bit, but gratitude that when they inspected the scrape/gash across my leg just above the ankle, there was no bone showing. All bones, while broken, stayed in place and I’ve not had to have any surgery.
It’s good to reflect on these things to combat the frustration of being mobility challenged, unable to walk or run, stuck at home unless I have a driver or assistance to get me and my scooter loaded into the car and assistance at my destination to get unloaded. Just getting a shower is a major production number! (I can’t put the cast cover on or off by myself; we’ve installed a temporary grab bar in the shower, especially since you have to step up to get in and our; I have a nice plastic chair in the shower now; I’m terrified of falling.)
I find that I must focus on the gratitude side of the equation and not let the fear and anger side take control. It could be worse, it could be better, but I find that I am learning to rest in where I am. No doubt I’ll come through this with a much more concrete connection with the needs of those in wheelchairs, or on crutches or like me, using a knee scooter. I’m extremely aware of the availability, or lack thereof, of curb cuts and ramps… and of ramps that are too steep. Teaches me compassion.
And still — I am impatient. I want to have mended bones and be back to walking, and even running (I hope!). Learning patience and gratitude are the kind of traits that require lots of practice to master. Aaaarrrgghh!
Several years ago I worked my way through Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach. It involved an exercise of taking the time daily to write down five things that you are grateful for. At times I struggled (life seemed a bit dark at the time); I recorded things like “my family” or “having a job” or “having a home.” As, I said, this was during a dark time in my life and as I wrote things down, I think I wrote things that I thought I should be grateful for. It was a good reminder each day and it certainly was a help to try to look at the good things.
This past weekend one of my godsons got married. We flew out to Texas to help celebrate the occasion. My oldest son was the best man. This was really a family celebration — a small wedding, but a weekend filled with friends that are more like family than friends. I listened to my son give the toast at the reception. The sense of BROTHERS came through so strongly. This despite the fact that these boys have not lived in the same town since they were 5 years old and have taken very different paths in life. But, they regard each other as brothers at a very deep level.
I had the chance to spent time not only with my son, but my daughter in law as well. When I teasingly made some comment about her not really knowing about the often odd family that she married in to, she responded – “Yes, but I’m glad I did.”
The groom hugged me repeatedly – and the bride, whom I had never met in person was open and welcoming. It seemed that the fact that we were special to her new husband meant that we would be special to her.
So many joys —
So, today, when I think of what I am grateful for, it comes from the heart. I am grateful for these blessings: my children, answered prayers, my friends who always seem to be there when needed… The joy of grandchildren. These aren’t listed because I think I should be grateful. These are the elements of my life that remind me how blessed I am. I sit in awe. I let go of the disappointments and the things I can’t control.