About Kean Salzer
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- The Spirit of Maui
Nov. 22, 2007 by Kean Salzer
A Thankful Heart
On my spiritual journey I have had to confront a number of issues that had taken root in childhood in my heart, but were contrary to my faith. Some of you know I was a pastor at New Hope Maui for a decade and at Hope Chapel Kahaluu on Oahu before that. One of the foundational truths I am challenged to believe is that having a grateful heart matters to God. I used to think that praying with Thanksgiving was some kind of formula that produced results, and during that period I tried to think of things to be thankful for right before my petitions so they would be more likely to be answered. I don't think that way anymore. I have come to think that my having a grateful heart matters to Him because it makes me more of who He designed me to be. Someone who worships. Who is connected to the beauty and life in and around me.
I have a hard time counting my blessings. I am wired up to see what can be and isn't. I am wounded in a way where I constantly challenge God when His word says I can do all things if He is at the center of them. My default argument is that you must have had someone else in mind when you wrote that. I have been raised in a world where my favorite storytellers are all cynics...Letterman, Leno, Stewart, Cease...names that might influence you too...for the past few years I have chosen to stop listening to them and that's helped a lot. I don't mind honest evaluation and criticism, but the cynic seems so convinced he is the only one who can see thru the deception...a kind of pride that doesn't produce life...only a kind of death in hope and in being connected to even those who's solutions are so radically different from ours. I have traded these voices for people like Dimitri Martin and Russell Peters and even Joel Osteen...people who seem to operate out of joy and hope and kindness.
But I am grateful today on Thanksgiving '07, and I pray to become grateful in my heart so that it resides daily. I realize I am living a kind of dream life. Owning a little 2 acre farm on Maui, being married to the same woman for 30 years and building a love that endures is no small feat and one I would never have guessed from my family history. One of my favorite things to be thanful for is having a houseful of children and grandchildren who love each other and go out of their way to spend time with each other as friends. I work with some very special people...not special as in riding the short bus... but special in their dedication and willingness to stay focused and making our project at Maui.net better every day...and I am part of a larger spiritual community at New Hope Maui that is like an extended family supporting each other through all kinds of events, breakdowns, celebrations and mysteries.
As I run my final laps as a person in their 50's I wonder will my body support all the dreams I have yet to see fulfilled? These dreams include leaving a legacy for my grandchildren that will help them have a life in Hawaii, even as the cost of living here skyrockets beyond those who haven't already got their piece of the rock.
To live from the heart, with integrity, and humility, in community, serving and forgiving those who are offensive, taking responsibility for my own offensive behaviors and asking for forgiveness, encouraging my circle to do their dreams, letting my own creative vision out of my head and onto the stage...all part of my sixties...and more...because I could never have guessed what God had planned for my 50's...so much better and sweeter...thank you, Father.
My favorite presidential quote fits today's celebration...I hope you see a little bit more of Lincoln as he speaks about his faith and country.
Delivered 144 years ago when the late President, Abraham Lincoln, established a National Day of Fasting, this quote embodies all that I feel about my life, and my country. HAPPY THANKSGIVING!
"We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us! It behooves us then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness." - Abraham Lincoln, 1863