Sunday Sermon: Gratitude

Hola Everybody, Here’s wishing everyone a happy week…

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I recently ran into an old friend and we went to have an early dinner where we met up with several others from the “old group.” Though we may not see each other as often, we still maintain closeness and not one of those men would ever turn down a phone call from me, or hesitate to lend a hand.

It seems one of the crew is ill. He was in remission, but it’s come back – hard – and the prognosis isn’t good. We decided to go see him.

It’s funny, but Jose and I were never the greatest of friends. I always saw him as too superficial and disliked his philandering. Yeah, you heard that right. Though I may be “free minded,” when I’m committed, I’m in for the long haul, no fuckin’ around. Anyway, though we never were that close, I know that if I called Jose in a moment of need he would answer and wouldn’t think twice if he had to help me in some way. It’s like that.

We met up with Jose at an old place and it’s really funny. We all hug one another when we meet. No matter where, in whatever context, when we meet, we hug. And it’s not one of those phony “man hugs,” we hug like familia. Truth be told, there was a time those hugs  helped me keep it together. Of course, me being who I am, I fuck with everybody by adding a kiss to the cheek. So yeah, there’s this image of a group of men meeting, hugging, and — I’m adding — kissing! They’re used to it by now… lol

My friend is going to die. At least that’s what the doctors are saying. But he was supposed to die the last time. Still, this time it really looks bad. And so Jose is talking, talking about how he’s dealing with all this. How on some days, he in the moment and being present, being engaged in living. Then there are days where sometimes he loses it and he’s afraid and tired and he’s thinking about all the shit that’s happening and all the shit that could happen and he becomes overwhelmed. On those days, he says, it hurts the most.

Then he talks about the gratitude and he beams — he’s full of life. He talks about the gifts he’s received over the years, how fortunate he is to have his friends and loved ones and this deep connection to life. And I’m sitting there bearing witness to this awesome teaching personified by Jose’s life – the way he lives his life. He’s a clown, sure. He’s flawed and sometimes he’s a superficial motherfucker, but man – the gratitude. And it hits me – all of us – like a ton of bricks. Jose is telling us that no matter what, if there’s no gratitude there’s nothing. It’s as if he’s turned the dynamic on its head: he’s living with his disease, not dying from it. He’s living the example. He’s a power of example. And as that realization settles in, I don’t see his disease anymore. I see past the weight loss and the hair loss and the sickly pallor and I see his life force burning brightly. It’s a fuckin’ awesome epiphany.

Being with my people and being with Jose, listening and taking in his teaching acts as a healing force for me and I thank him from the bottom of my heart. There are no words, just a tight hug when we leave. And when I hug him, I kiss him on the cheek and whisper in his ear, “thank you, I love you,” and he laughs.

I think it’s easy to express gratitude when things are going well, or close to well. It’s when the shit hits the fan that we find it hard to express and embody gratitude. Anybody can be grateful while in the pink of health and material wealth. The fact that few are able, even in the best of times, to express gratitude is a mark of the spiritual void in our times.

The fact is that we all die and many of us die ignoble deaths. A friend, for example, died while walking down the street and something fell on him. How rude! I mean, when I die, I want it televised with lots of people weeping and women throwing their panties on my deathbed. Chances are it won’t happen that way, though. I guess what will make it all more meaningful, is how I lived. Did I make a difference? Did I make it a better world, however insignificant? Did I love?

My name is Eddie and I’m in recovery from civilization…


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