Martin Rinkart was a Lutheran minister in Eilenburg, Germany. During the thirty years war this walled city became a refuge for Germans from the devastation of war. Conditions were brutal, and overcrowding led to famine so severe that people fought in the streets for dead cats and birds to eat. (Think, 350 years later Charmin Double Roll brawl.) Famine was followed by plague and thousands upon thousands perished. This included the whole town council and two pastors (a third split the scene), leaving Rinkart to conduct thousands of funerals alone, sometimes as many as 50 per day.
Barely able to feed and protect his own family he offered his family’s much needed meager rations and opened his home to the neediest. By the end of the ordeal he personally had buried 4,500 people, including his own wife.
A penniless widower and single father, Rinkart wrote a prayer of Thanksgiving for his children to sing at the dinner table and before bed. “Now Thank We All Our God” is a hymn of hope, joy, and thanksgiving which has uplifted for centuries. No doubt Rinkart wrote this for himself too, as we write so we know what we think, and also what we want to be. As Yogi Bhajan says, “If you want to learn something, read about it. If you want to understand something, write about it. If you want to master something, teach it.”
Today, share your joy and gratitude. One will encourage the other, and in giving you will receive. Good karma is a good kind of contagious! (Living proof- Watch uplifting rendition of Rinkart’s prayer for his grieving children below.)
How might you give thanks today, as a way of helping others in this time of need and uncertainty? Meditate on this a moment, and then commit to doing three acts, today. Make awkward gaps in your normal schedule opportunities to give (and get) support and joy.
A few ideas:
- Watch a mandatory movie at home with your roommate, family, housemate: “Life is Beautiful.” Awe over how one father provides joy amidst holocaust horror
- Write a few thank you notes to special people who have impacted you and pop them in the mail.
- Order carryout from a local restaurant, or a good book at your local bookstore.
- Continue to support favorite small businesses that need you more than ever. Trust that an attitude of abundance perseveres over one of lack.
- Call a friend that you know is struggling with all this. Reassure them, without discounting how they feel.
Hope begets hopefulness. Thanks begets thankfulness. Normalcy begets normalcy.