Reverend David Old, MDiv.
Minister's Letter January 19th,2022
This week has been a long chain of interrelated frustrations. Ever have a week like that? I know I am not alone. More than one appropriate curse word has slipped out of my mouth over the last few days.
My new laptop, which I bought last January, is again no longer connecting to the internet Wi-Fi, and even when connecting it to the Ethernet Cable, it only remains connected for a minute, if I’m lucky, before it disconnects. I then have to unplug the ethernet cable and plug it back in to reconnect, and it is taking longer and longer to reconnect. My work piles up as I struggle to connect and respond to emails, access files in Google Drive, or connect to my printer. If this sounds familiar, it is because I probably mentioned it last November when it happened the first time and continued for almost a month. After taking it in for repairs four different times before finding someone to fix it, and then bringing it back home to have it stop working again, and then having Geek Squad come to my house twice, it was finally fixed…or so I thought. At least it stayed working for three weeks. Now the technicians are saying I have to send it back to the manufacturer who would either repair or replace it, and to expect one to two weeks for that to be done, and returned to me. Needless to say, I cannot be without my laptop for two weeks, so it looks like I’ll be buying another laptop.
Of course, this story I am telling you is a story going on in my head that I am telling myself. Let’s call it “Poor me!” Or perhaps, “#*&#! Laptop Story.” One title makes me a victim, and the other places blame on the laptop, the manufacturers and/or Best Buy for selling it to me. Interestingly, last week, while preparing for this coming Sunday’s message on gratitude, prior to the “#*&#! Laptop Story,” I ran across an online article on gratitude by Eckhart Tolle, which offered me a lot of wisdom to mull over during this particularly trying week. His solution is to simply say, “this is.” (We will get back to that in a few minutes). The full article can be found here: Eckhart Tolle on gratitude
Tolle talks about how we have formed an image of “me” and “my life”, which is really just a story we tell ourselves, and we mistake that for our life. Tolle says, “Fundamentally your life is whatever form this moment takes. Your life is always what is now. That’s your life. Not some story you’re telling yourself in your head.” So many people live continuously with a clash between their ideas of what should be now, and what is “now.”
Tolle goes on to say that the greatest form of suffering and frustration and non-fulfillment is this “clash between the mental story of what ‘should’ be and what is.” For Tolle that’s really the root of the madness. And he makes the wise observation, “There cannot be gratitude when that operates in your life.”
Tolle continues with these words:
When something seemingly negative happens, people may find it very hard to say “Okay, I should be grateful, even for this”. I’m not saying you should do that, because even that is an idea in your head. It’s better to forget about trying to be grateful when something seemingly negative happens, and simply let go of the mental judgment of it, and say “This is what is, this is what happened, and this is the situation now”. If you can be free of mental judgment and denial or projection, complaining, and so on… just allow what is, and then something deeper emerges, even in a seemingly negative situation.
By coming into this place of acceptance, of the inevitable ‘is-ness’ of now, your inner state is no longer ultimately dependent on what is happening or not happening outside. That is a vital transformation of consciousness, where the external world no longer determines your state of consciousness.
So, when something seemingly bad happens, say “this is”. Whether it is a small thing or a large thing, be open to that. If you’re open to the ‘is-ness’ of what is, something within you which we could call “peace” arises. Sometimes it’s very subtle, and you can’t notice it at first.
You’re not grateful for the seemingly bad thing, but you’re grateful that you can still be at peace, even in this situation. Internally you feel that by accepting, peace arises. Even in seemingly bad circumstances. And what is that peace? It’s an inner sense of aliveness, being-ness, presence. It’s the source of all gratitude.
There can be gratitude even when something bad happens. Not for the bad, but for the fact that even in the face of something seemingly negative, there is still peace in the background. But you won’t find that until you first accept what is.
Gratitude is very important. It transforms your whole life, if you can remember the importance of being grateful for life. As you go through your day, every day, you can even have little reminders – of the importance of being appreciative of life.
Every person has to verify for themselves, what can I be grateful for at this moment?
Sense the being that you are – not just the physical, but the sense of your own presence. That’s a great source of joy, to feel your own presence, it cannot really be defined. That’s the ultimate gratitude.
So, I think again of Tolle’s observation, “Fundamentally your life is whatever form this moment takes.” I sit here in my upstairs home office, in the warmth that it provides, feeling cozy, warm and dry, as it rains outside on this cold Friday morning. At the same time, as I finish this letter, I am listening to the cheerful song of the resident cardinal in the tree outside my office. In this present moment, I can affirm, without hesitation, I have so much to be grateful for. I feel my own presence, and sense the true spiritual being that I am. Right now, I am feeling, in every cell of my body, what the Apostle Peter once described as “joy unspeakable and full of glory!” (1 Peter 1:8)
Wishing and affirming this joy for you all!
Rich blessings and much love,