All blessings flow from the same ultimate Source, and sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the idea that somehow we are the ones triggering the blessings.  When pride rather than rejoicing gratitude is our state of mind, I believe that can turn the heart of the Giver away.  At any moment, the wonderful things we have and experience can be withdrawn and our world can shift dramatically, so this mindset of gratefulness for the blessings we receive is vital to our constant welfare.

Job and Jesus were both examples of the best mindset to receive.  Job, through a twist of fate, had everything stripped from him, but he retained his dignity and faithfulness – and was ultimately rewarded with blessings far exceeding what had been taken away.  Jesus gave up the blessings of his family’s position and wealth to live the life of an itinerant preacher, always mindful of the many blessings surrounding him without the trappings of wealth.  In Sufi tradition when Jesus was asked how he felt being poor, he responded by confidently declaring he had all he needed, “My shoes are my chariot, the moon is my lantern, and the morning sun is my winter’s fire.”

To become the creatures we are created to be, we must open ourselves to the Divine will, and being caught up in our blessings or thinking that somehow God “owes” us these things is a dangerous, prideful attitude and closes our hearts.  “Pride goeth before a fall (from Proverbs 16:18)” is a principle consistent with our growth cycle – to “reopen” our hearts to His presence, sometimes we have to be reminded of the proper attitude and our blessings are stripped away.  Jesus, First Among Saints, gave up his material blessings in voluntary abasement as an example to those around him; Job was abased because, I believe, he was a trusted servant and God required an example for Job’s contemporaries.  Both proved that material blessings are to be accepted with grace and humility, and that true blessings are beyond this material world.

In my personal reflection, I believe this Name has to do with keeping a hedge about our proclivity to pride.  Our Creator has built the entire universe just for our well-being, and His desire for our welfare means we deserve rich blessings, but the moment we act like attention-starved selfish children and whine to the heavens that somehow God “owes us” something, we begin to weaken our channel with the Source and sour our relationship.  By remaining aware that, at any moment and quicker than an eye-blink, our fortunes could be reversed and our haughtiness brought to abasement, we can be motivated to remain in a grateful state of mind.  And, if abasement comes although we maintain the right attitude, I believe it is because our Creator trusts that we’ll have the strength to deal with it and be a good example to those around us.

The shape is a truncated dodecahedron, modeled after a popular lamp imported from the Middle East during the 60’s and 70’s, inspired by a lamp made by my friend David n. Sterling of The Mall of America Religious Council.  Each pentagonal face has a representation of the numbers 1 through 12; in the bottom are ashes (reminding us of the example of Job) and hanging from the top is a polished moonstone (symbolizing the story related about Jesus).  The ashes are from prairie oak, Russian olive, and cottonwood branches (naturally fallen from their respective trees, growing around the areas I’ve lived in – and with some alchemical significance).  The indigo and blue paint are to remind us of the expanse of heaven.

All of us have our stories of abasement, and I pray that we have the strength to remember to offer gratitude for the blessings we receive; I’m also confident our Creator hears and is greatly pleased when we thank those wonderful people who surround us, who give us His blessings through their own hands.

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