It's a statement attributed to Rabbi Herschel. "When you pray, don't pray for things--pray to be worthy of things." That thoughtful line is something of the same ethic that underlies the Garrison Keillor note that's typed in above every post I've ever added to this blog. See it up top? It's always been there.
Ten years ago it was a mantra, the motivating spirit of the keystrokes that march out of my heart, mind, and soul. I believed Keillor, believed him enough to make his words some kind of discipline. Still do, really. Back then, I thought he was right, that giving thanks is a good, good thing, not just for me and my soul but for the time and place God has given me. Giving daily heartfelt thanks doesn't diminish us; it acknowledges that we live and work and have our being beneath the hand of a much bigger giver, a God forever greater than we will ever be. Giving thanks may well keep us humble.
I probably don't do it enough any more, don't title posts that way. Long ago already, "Morning Thanks" posts became less regular, and that's okay. It was no sin not to hold myself to original intent. But I can't help feeling this morning, that I was somehow diminished when those thanks slowly became more infrequent.
All of that speculation is but preface to offering my morning thanks this morning. And I say that because this morning giving thanks is incredibly difficult. News reports say that 78 percent of those who watched President Donald Trump's speech last night before Congress were impressed. Van Jones, a CNN commentator who once worked for President Obama was vilified on Twitter last night for saying that the moment the President acknowledged and said what he did about the the wife of the Navy Seal who died in that Somalian raid, he "became the President, period."
I don't admire Donald Trump. He lies wholesale and has ever since he came down that ridiculous elevator in Trump tower. I think he suffers from a nearly terminal case of the first of the Seven Deadlies, pride. He's a bully and an ass, and it's hard for me to imagine any parent in America wanting their children to grow up and act as he all too regularly does.
And even though this morning he has to do what he promised so clearly last night, has to accomplish more than he has in his rallies and on his Twitter account, last night for the very first time I thought I saw someone who could be President of these United States and leader of the free world. Glimpses, at least. Possibilities.
I for one am thrilled he didn't poke sharp sticks in people's eyes, that he didn't make fun of people, didn't exaggerate his own riches and glories. The speech's references to American history made him sound, for the first time, as if he cared about the institutions he now oversees and has himself become. It's very difficult for me to say it, but I thought there were moments when he seemed a President.
And for that, this morning--hard as it is for me to admit--I give thanks.