This is a chant from Taizé, short, repetitive, and meditative. It’s a great piece to teach kids of any age. It’s short enough for preschoolers to learn, and has a depth that makes it ideal for adding to teens’ and adults’ repertoire of memorized songs (and it’s very easily memorized). It’s an excellent piece for centering oneself. When I’m singing a Taizé chant to my son, I won’t go into many repetitions, although sometimes he wants to hear the song again and again, as toddlers sometimes want.. regardless of whether it’s a repetitive chant or not :lol:.
A couple weeks ago, I ran out to the library for a stash of books to read. As I was grabbing books off the shelf, I saw a bright blue book by Christian author and cultural commentator Diana Butler Bass, Grateful, The Transformative Power of Giving Thanks. It’s organized in four main categories based on personal/communal thanksgiving and an emotional or ethical orientation. For a fuller picture of what she means by that, I recommend the book to you. But a quick foretaste: essentially, you don’t need to feel thankful to be thankful in every situation. In fact, those people who live the most gratefully aren’t actively stoking their appreciative emotions; rather, they’re practicing awareness of the good things in life and actively engaging in habits that remind them of those good things. No emotion is sustainable long-term, after all. But habits and practices that keep one centered and aware of life’s blessings, privileges, or “tailwinds” as Bass calls them, is something we can cultivate.
As the mom of an almost three-year-old, I am spending a lot of time helping him figure out the social graces of our lives: please, thank you, you’re welcome. Bass talks about how she was instructed to write thank-yous as a child, another example of how we try to teach our children gratitude. I agree these are important things to teach your child to say, but I wonder why we don’t as parents focus more often on the other side of things, like really cultivating deeper gratitude. This week, my husband took a day off work in the middle of the week, and we went to Mammoth Cave National Park. It was a beautiful day for hiking, and pretty soon we found ourselves alone on a trail in a beautiful natural environment. While I couldn’t exactly tell my toddler how to stop, close his eyes, and savor the moment, I could tell him how much I was enjoying my hike with him. I could tell him how much joy he brings to our lives, just by being himself. We could stop at particularly lovely spots and declare together our appreciation of the view.
My prayer of confession post from Thursday was sort of an outcrop of Wednesday’s
mountaintop cave…bottom? experience and also the challenges and rough spots coming up working my way through Bass’s book. In the prologue, Bass worries she’s an ingrate, which was one reason why I was willing to pick up her book on gratitude in the first place. I do identify with her fears and wonderings about how to practice authentic thankfulness, especially in a culture of ‘never enough’. I’m suspicious of blanket statements about one’s blessings because, like all people, I’ve suffered and faced great difficulty. I refuse placebos and toxic positivity, and it just digs me deeper into my negative frame of mind. So while you sing this song, I really think it’s most meaningful if you spend some time thinking about your struggles in life, and letting thankfulness for God’s presence in that time bubble up. If you’re like me. If you’re not like me, then… let me know what works for you!
And while we’re at it… thank you for reading and supporting my tiny contribution to the internet. I enjoy the stretch this commitment gives me, and I hope it brings something to you as well!