It’s the Sunday before Thanksgiving, and I’m sitting in a local watering hole surrounded by dogs, none of them mine. One is thwapping my back with its tail, uninvited but welcome (more or less). A local dog rescue organization is celebrating its tenth anniversary here this afternoon. A friend will be joining me in a little bit, who I’ve really missed, someone I met through The Jung Center. Somehow, there’s never time to see each other, or not time that I consciously make. But I’m grateful we’ve made the time now.
The practice of gratitude is sometimes pitched to us as a kind of cure-all by therapists, spiritual teachers, and TikTok influencers. If you’re suffering, just look at all the things that are going well. Keep a journal of the things you’re thankful for. Think about all of the people who loved you into being, as Fred Rogers told us (a suggestion that, despite my wary heart, does not get old). The shadow of gratitude is the way it can be used to avoid what is difficult — particularly for those of us advising others to feel it. Sitting with someone in their pain is difficult. And it feels like a season of pain.
But I’m feeling a specific kind of gratitude today. There’s a small mutt wearing a Santa Claus hat sitting on a woman’s lap two tables over. A five-year old just clambered over the bench across from me, where my friend will be sitting in about fifteen minutes. And I spent the morning at The Jung Center, where around fifty of us, some online, some in person, just concluded a weekend with the author and analyst Fanny Brewster.
One of the few Black Jungian analysts in the world, Dr. Brewster delivered the Fay Lectures here, which will be published by Texas A&M University Press. Across three days, a diverse group of earnest, reflective, fallible people came together to hear her deliver “The Racial Psyche: Imagination, Politics, and the Human Spirit.” I’m grateful today for the grace Dr. Brewster brought with her. For the understanding that, as she put it, we are all preschoolers in the conversation about race and difference, just learning how to speak, babbling and learning together. Failing is an unavoidable, necessary part of the process of learning how to relate with others, and our history, with integrity.
Today, I am grateful for The Jung Center. It has been part of my life for more than a quarter century, almost all of my adult life. We need spaces where we can think together, fail together, feel together, learn together. Where we can encounter those who care deeply for our shared humanity. Where we can be curious and let go of our attachment to comfort, in the service of growth and connection.
To be grateful for The Jung Center is to be grateful for all of you. Thank you so much for continuing to create and sustain this singular community.