‘O taste and see that the Lord is good’ [Psalm 34.8]
‘Thank you’ is the most wonderful of prayers. It places us in relationship. It reminds us that we live in a universe of gift rather than a workplace of oppression.
If you find difficulty in receiving, tell God about it. Then open your hands. If God gives you something – a precious space, a gift of kindness from another, a moment when you are caught up in the beauty of creation - then receive this with graciousness. I will not say ‘you deserve it’ since the language of ‘deserving’ is not one that belongs here. It is gift, and no more. Learn to receive, be thankful, and you will become freer and more joyful in your giving.
When I can pray no other prayer, then ‘thank you’ keeps me earthed in God’s goodness. I am delivered from my grumpiness and can see the largeness of life again. Sometimes I can find no other words; and perhaps no other words are necessary. I say ‘thank you’ and I am in God’s presence.
At this time of year I pick blackberries. I cannot think of anywhere I have lived where I have not done so. Even in the most concrete of environments there is an alley alongside a railway or a demolition site where brambles make a home. I feel in the presence of God as I pick blackberries. In part it is the contemplative nature of the task. My eyes and hands are focused on gathering the fruit. My senses – without any effort – receive the sun on my back, and the song of a blackbird somewhere close. I am physically active and mentally at rest. I am at my most content, abiding in God without need of words. I am also brought into God by the sheer generosity of it all. The fruit is free; the blackberries cluster in profusion.
God is generous like this; as the psalm says, ‘taste and see that the Lord is good’. We are free to taste and see without paying any price; the giving is without condition. We only have to seek the giver and allow ourselves to be absorbed by this presence, just as it takes a decision to seek out where the blackberries are. The fruit itself is free. And like blackberries, God’s generosity surprises us in the most unlikely places, tumbling over fences, scrambling across the otherwise desolate wasteland. Having gone so far to meet us, it seems only courteous to answer the invitation: I eat the blackberries, and taste and see that the Lord is good.
Excerpt from Earthed in God: Four movements of spiritual growth [Canterbury Press 2018]