Tuesday, December 19, 2006


Here's the game: A friend assigns a letter and you have to come up with ten things you are grateful for that begin with that letter. If you would like to play, let me know and I'll send you a letter! This game has a faintly Kabbalistic element to it. The ancient Hebrews believed that God imbued each letter with a nature of it's own... and that words that began or contained that letter were, by nature, connected.

Antony assigned me the letter "D" for Dunk, of course!

In doing this exercise, I found D a difficult and demanding letter. It can be somewhat dour by nature, but also disciplined and dedicated. Things I can use more of in my spiritual life. I am delighted to bring you: The letter D.

1. The Dunk. This was obvious, but truly I haven't been more grateful for anything in my life. The day I walked into that pond and got submerged was the day that God entered my heart and set up shop. So much has happened since then, I almost can't remember what life was like before. The biggest gift God gave me that day was to introduce me to his son, Jesus.

2. Dancing. I just love to feel music in my body. A couple months ago we went to a French Farmer's Market, complete with an Acadian band from Maine. They were singing in French and playing fiddles and concertinas and tapping shoes and I was all alone in front of their little stage, dancing away.

When Noah was younger, he used to dance all the time. Even now he moves so beautifully to music.

And today, Emmett went to see The Nutcracker Ballet and couldn't stop dancing this afternoon.

3. Daybreak. I am not normally an early riser, but dawn is a time of extraordinary beauty. When I lived in Hawaii, I woke up very early one morning and watched the purple clouds over the mountain, turn pink, then orange, then finally, white, as the sun rose. I'll never forget it.

4. Dwelling- I am grateful for my little, 1920's Dutch Colonial Revival with the terrible plumbing and abused wood floors, leaky French doors and decrepit cedar shingles. It is the home we have lived in for 12 years now. We were a young, childless couple here. We had babies here. Now we are raising two beautiful boys and a naughty rabbit here. My only regret is that we can't have a chicken (zoning laws) but that is a small thing compared to the delight I feel living in this great neighborhood with my lovely family.

5. Daily Office- I don't do the whole thing, but every day I read the evening psalms from the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer and follow it with a sort of a prayer meme: Sins I have committed or things I must apologize for, Praise and Thanks to God, Intercessions for others (this is where many of you wind up!) and finally, prayers for myself, which often revolve around not repeating what was in the first part....

6. Divina, Lectio- (snuck that one in!) A small group of us meet each week at Grace, for about 50 minutes, and read the gospel lesson and meditate on what God is saying to us through the reading. It is an ancient practice made fresh every week by the real engagement of everyone who attends. I am so grateful for this addition to my spiritual life. We are learning about each other and praying for each other and God is at the center of it all. How often does that happen on a regular basis in real life, I ask?

7. Depth- In water, prayer, relationships, self awareness, relationship with God. I am grateful for the ability to swim at the deep end of the spiritual pool and be fearless even when I am in over my head. God buoys me up when I am feeling afraid. He urges me back to the shallow end when I need comforting.

8. Doing- It is my nature to know things. I read books about stuff. I join online lists about things as varied as electric kitchen mixers and (in a past life) the history of tarot cards. I become an expert. But it is all too easy to be an egghead and never actually do anything. I am at a stage in my life, both with my family and with God, where the doing is everything. I can't be an expert at parenting. I can't be the smartest, most well read Christian. What I can do is do it, imperfectly, everyday. I can play with my kids. I can walk up to the altar and take communion. I can lay hands on a sick person and let the spirit of God rush through me. And I can cook and do dishes and grocery shop and make a comfortable and loving place for friends and family to gather.

9. Death- Not necessarily the physical kind. I am human enough to feel great pain at the death of a friend or relative. But spiritual death has been a blessing for me. A relationship with God invites us to die to our old selves. We let go of what we used to believe and think and do. We see everything in terms of our relationship with him. It becomes the compass point by which we navigate our lives. 'He shall break you like a potter's vessel' used to be such a terrifying concept. Now I joyfully offer myself to be broken, so that God can put me back together again as he sees fit.

10. Disciple- Oh God, For this I can never thank you enough. You have graciously accepted me as your disciple. You are my teacher and friend. You are my Beloved. You are my God. Grant that I may be a worthy disciple to you, always.


Sacred Art of Living said...

Great list Rachel and I love the kabbalistic connection you make with the letters!

Antony said...

A well thought out list. Thanks for your effort on this and playing along. :)

Rachel's Big Dunk said...

Thanks, you two, for getting the 'letter of gratitude' rolling!

Rachel's Big Dunk said...

Oh, and by the way, I am grateful for Dave too. Dave Matthews currently and David Bowie as a teen and young adult. Both have brought me joy.

Swandive said...

Great stuff sister!