Meditation Monday: Blessed, Grateful or Just Privileged

A Reflection on Gratitude and Indigenous Peoples' Day.

by Christine Sine
Autumn leaves

by Christine Sine

Today I am struggling and have been for the last week. The beginning of October is always a time of great enjoyment for me as I recount the many blessings of my life I have to be thankful for. However, after reading Drew Jackson’s poem The Faces of Blessing in his beautiful collection of poems Touch the Earth: Poems on the Way, I have been wondering if what I call blessing is really just privilege and a sense of entitlement.

I guess blessing means entitlement.
I have been told my birthright is a curse.

Drew is a black poet who has known the suffering of discrimination, racism and injustice, and his poems have much to teach us about the inequality of our world.

So today I sit and look at the many blessings of my life and think “What of these things really come from a hidden sense of entitlement?” Am I “blessed” because God loves me, or am I blessed because as a white woman, the comforts I enjoy have been taken from the First people of this land and also from the First Australians?”

Today we celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day in the U.S., a renaming of what was Columbus Day. The growing recognition that the “blessings ” and privileges of much of what I enjoy are because of the attempted extermination of indigenous people and the enslavement of and continuing discrimination against black people is hard to grapple with. We live in a beautiful home, but home ownership is much harder for black people who can’t get loans and are often charged higher interest rates.

Today I use the word “gift” rather than “blessing, because gift implies that I am the recipient of something someone else has given up, and often these gifts are not voluntary. In Australia, the situation is just as bad. The beautiful home I grew up in is on land from which the First Australians were forcibly ejected, killed by disease and to make way for the white settlers. Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders were given few rights. They only became citizens in 1948 and gained the right to vote in 1962. They still struggle with many forms of injustice.

Australia is “unusual among settler nations to have never made a treaty with its Indigenous peoples”, says colonial historian Prof Amanda Nettelbeck. It has never recognised Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as its first inhabitants in the constitution. They weren’t fully counted in the population until 1971 and there are no dedicated seats for them in government. On October 14th a very important referendum will be held in the country. If successful, the proposal – known as the Voice – will recognize Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the constitution, while creating a body for them to advise governments on the issues affecting their communities. I would appreciate your prayers for this extremely important referendum. 

Even destruction of God’s good creation is often viewed through the lens of “blessing” and entitlement. Development often strips the land of its native flora and fauna to provide space for our beautiful homes. Here in the Pacific NW many invasive species like the Himalayan blackberry have taken over from less resilient native species, and though I love the blessing of blackberry and apple crumble, I know that it comes at a high cost to the local species.  Re-establishing local flora and fauna and recognizing what a gift our native species are has been highlighted more in the last few years. Many gardeners and farmers are reintroducing native wildflowers and grasses that attract insects and other wildlife that we need to pollinate crops. Hopefully we will move towards a more sustainable balance.

Fortunately Drew Jackson still believes in blessing. In another of his poems “Leftovers” he says

“Never show up to the cookout
or slide through the fish fry without some Tupperware in hand.
You won’t want to miss
the blessing of these leftovers for days on end.
The best hosts always provide take home containers.
Take as much as you want, child. There’s plenty to go around.”

I particularly love that last line “Take as much as you want, child. There’s plenty to go around.” In God’s economy there is enough for all our needs and for all of us to flourish and enjoy the richness of God’s intended blessings. Leftovers don’t just come in Tupperware containers. they come in the overflowing abundance of God in so many aspects of life, abundance that is meant to be shared generously and with great thanksgiving with all around us, so that together we can all flourish in God’s world. 

I hope that you too will grapple with the question “What is blessing, what is gift, and what is privilege and what are the implications for our lives?”

Join Christine Sine on October 14 or watch the recording later. October and November, the season between Canadian Thanksgiving and American Thanksgiving, is gratitude season on Godspacelight. Christine Sine will encourage you to enter into the practice of gratitude in this  interactive retreat that will help us enter this season of gratitude with joy and delight in our hearts.


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