18 December 2023. In the tapestry of our existence as members of PeaceBuilders Community, Inc. (PBCI) and Coffee for Peace (CFP), gratitude serves as the golden thread that weaves together the fabric of our lives. It is a powerful force that connects us to the Creator, the journey of becoming, our community, and the vast creation that surrounds us. In this season of remembering the Birth of Jesus Christ in the context of the 2023 ethnic cleansing and genocide in the Land of Palestine — his country of birth, we spend a day of reflection together. We delve into the profound significance of expressing gratitude in these various dimensions of our existence. Gratitude goes beyond mere politeness or saying “thank you”; it is a heartfelt and intentional practice that can have transformative effects on both individuals and communities.
It’s very difficult to have a normal “Christmas Party” in the midst of what’s happening in our world these days. When we were planning to have a 2023 Holiday Season’s gathering, we asked our staff how we would conduct this event together. They suggested “a pilgrimage of thanksgiving around Mount Apo.” And that’s what we did. A Day of Gratitude.
We started the day with breakfast together. We then proceeded to our PBCI-CFP permanent home, the Malipayon Peace Hub, and had games and lunch together. From there, we drove to Kapatagan area and had coffee in a beautiful farm. We continued circumnavigating Mt. Apo and paid respects to the shrine commemorating the 39 Bagobo Tagabawa people who were massacred by a rebel group in 1989. We concluded the day enjoying the view of Southern Mindanao and the Davao Gulf.
Gratitude to the Creator
At the heart of our journey lies the recognition of a higher power, an infinite intelligence that orchestrates the grand symphony of the universe. Whether one subscribes to our particular Christian religious belief or embraces a more universal spiritual understanding, acknowledging the existence of a Creator is an act of humility and reverence. Gratitude to the Creator is an expression of awe for the gift of life, the beauty of the natural world, and the intricacies of the human experience.
In moments of gratitude to the Creator, we invite our PBCI-CFP Family to find solace, purpose, and a sense of connection to something greater than ourselves. It is a reminder that we are part of a divine plan, and our existence is not a mere accident but a deliberate creation filled with potential and purpose.
In our Christian faith, this is incarnated in the life and work of Jesus of Nazareth. With so much respect to our community members’ diverse spirituality – Islamic, Indigenous, various Christian sects — we freely and humbly share the story of our walk with Jesus.
Gratitude to the journey of becoming
Life is a continuous journey of growth, transformation, and self-discovery. Each experience, whether joyous or challenging, contributes to the tapestry of our becoming. Expressing gratitude for the journey is an acknowledgment of the lessons learned, the resilience gained, and the wisdom accumulated along the way.
We are a colonized nation. The wounds, pains, and sufferings of our ancestors flow through our past and present generations. We are going through the process of healing. We are no longer who we were. We are transforming to what we will become. We’re not yet who we’re becoming.
The journey of becoming is marked by both peaks and valleys, and gratitude becomes a compass that guides us through the twists and turns. It allows us to appreciate not only the destination but also the path that has shaped us into the individuals we are today. In moments of reflection, we can express gratitude for the strength to endure, the courage to change, and the opportunity to evolve.
Gratitude to our community
Human connection is a fundamental aspect of our existence, and our lives are enriched by the relationships we cultivate within our PBCI-CFP community and the various Indigenous communities with whom we each belong. Gratitude to our community is an acknowledgment of the support, love, and shared experiences that bind us together.
Communities provide a sense of belonging and a support system during both triumphs and tribulations. Expressing gratitude to our community fosters a culture of appreciation, empathy, and cooperation. In times of celebration, it deepens our joy, and in times of challenge, it strengthens our resilience. Gratitude to our community reminds us that we are not alone on this journey and that our collective efforts contribute to the beauty of our shared existence.
Gratitude to the creation
The world around us, with its breathtaking landscapes, diverse ecosystems, and the marvels of human innovation, is a testament to the grandeur of creation. Expressing gratitude to the creation is an acknowledgment of the interconnectedness between ourselves and the environment.
In the face of environmental challenges, expressing gratitude to the creation compels us to be responsible stewards of the Earth. It calls us to appreciate the beauty of nature, protect its delicate balance, and strive for sustainable practices that honor the intricate web of life. Gratitude to the creation is a call to action, inviting us to preserve the planet for future generations.
Gratitude, as a universal language, has the power to transform our lives and the world around us. Whether directed towards the Creator, the journey of becoming, our community, or the creation, gratitude deepens our connection to the profound tapestry of existence. It is a timeless reminder that in expressing thanks, we not only acknowledge the blessings of the present but also pave the way for a future filled with compassion, understanding, and harmony.