I've long observed that gratitude is a direct link to Heaven (a mystery of the Universe). . .one of the ways we are able to experience and participate in eternal life here and now; what Jesus referred to in the Great Sermon as "The Kingdom of the Heavens". Gratitude takes us past the pain of difficult circumstances because it tends to move us out of dualistic thinking experientially, and past the false belief that we can only interpret our experience one of two ways. It reminds us that when we're faced with "two choices" it's possible to "choose the third". . .to adopt a contemplative stance and consider more creative options. Each of us has this capacity, if we will only stop and remember.
More and more, it's the desire of my soul to unlock the mysteries of (at least) my own inner Universe. If gratitude is a key, surrender must also be a key, because to experience gratitude we must be willing to let go. I'm not saying that we "let go" of everything--whoosh!--in a moment's time. It involves layers of discernment, of sifting through, becoming aware and relinquishing all the false stuff that gets in the way, as well as becoming aware of what matters, or, as the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah expresses it, "separating the precious from the worthless." (Jeremiah 15:19)
Jamal Rahman suggests that surrender comes primarily through the work of self-vigilance, supported by spiritual practices, and that, eventually, it will lead to a place of peace. Not only is it a process, it's a lifelong practice--the practice of listening to and acting on the needs of the soul--what I call listening to the demands of your own soul (because they're not going to shut up and go away); and what Jesus referred to when he spoke of the "Pearl of Great Price"--that for which you would go and sell everything, because you discover that it is worth more to you than all else!
And, somehow this brings me back to "The Welcoming Prayer" which I wrote about in a previous post. Throughout this Season of Family, I expect to have the capacity to carry the pain of my present circumstances, along with the joy of knowing each person I hold so dearly--even if they have hurt me, are naughty, or behave badly. That's what family is. I will hold those things in tension with the demands of my own soul--(her) demands for attention, compassion, and self care.
I expect to have the capacity to hold all the Questions, Sadness and Anxiety in tension with their sister, Gratitude. That is, after all, what family is. And I will keep vigil, watching for those unknown blessings.