Rev. Barnaby Feder, Minister
Rev. Barnaby Feder, Minister

Cicero, the great Roman politician and philosopher, called joy the simplest form of gratitude. That feels true to me. So let me start this month that builds toward Thanksgiving meals and Christmas spirit by wishing all of you a bounteous portion of joy as the days get steadily shorter and colder.

I fear, though, that we will miss out on a lot of reasons for gratitude if we look only for what brings us joy. And we need more than the available joy. The month begins with an election which, at best, will shift the political ground enough to offer slightly more protection to the most vulnerable among us. But the 2020 presidential campaign will begin in earnest as soon as the votes are counted. Everything that tears us apart will still be with us.

So we need to look also for courage. May we be grateful for moments when we find within ourselves – often with each other’s support – the gumption to stand up for the positive values UU’s affirm.

I hope we look for humility too. May you and I encounter many opportunities to be grateful for new ways of seeing the world and our- selves, especially those hard-won new perspectives that become visible only because we put aside our insistence that we know what is real and what is best. Perhaps those “I never thought of it that way before” moments will be upsetting. But in the end they may open doors we never noticed before. I know our Nov. 16 dinner-discussion of W hite Fragility will provide such an opportunity.

Most of all, lets look for hope. This November will confront us with invitations to despair. But together we can also notice joys, blessings and new possibilities that give us every reason to hope for better times. Hope will inspire us to live as Love calls us to. I’d say that’s the most complex form of gratitude, and it pairs nicely with joy.