I admit I'm tired this week, and so I looked up what I wrote last year on gratitude to see if I could use it again for this month's reflection.
But I can't.
After several months of natural and human disasters, gratitude looks and feels different for me this year. Thinking of all of the lives lost in the hurricanes, fires, and shootings, my thank you feels almost desperate, Thank you, God, my family is alive.
Thinking of all of the people who lost their homes and everything inside, my thank you feels a little shaken, Thank you, God, for the safety and security of my home that could be gone within seconds.
I'm also reflecting on my daughter having just left for college in the fall and all of the women and men who shared in the Life Transitions online and day retreats in October. My thank you for the gift of friends and faith sharing feels even deeper than before. Thank you, God, for the people who help you through life transitions.
Gratitude is an awareness that every moment is pure gift from God. The more I recognize this, the more I see there are no entitlements in life and the more I treasure each moment, each person, and each event in my life as a beautiful act of love from God.
So often when tragedy occurs, I find myself sitting in shock and sadness. The beauty of gratitude is that it takes that shock and sadness and turns it into a call to respond to others who are needing help. In this month of Thanksgiving, I will pray for the people in pain still dealing with the aftermath of so many tragedies. And then I'll be asking myself, how will I show my gratitude differently this year? How can I let people know I'm grateful for them? How can I give to others who are in need? How can I continue the cycle of love that our amazing Creator God started?
Gratitude is not an attitude; it's a practice. To live a life of gratitude requires making intentional moments in your day to practice. The first step can be finding moments in your day to simply say thank you, God. As Meister Eckhart says, If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.
I want to share with you this prayer by Mary Jo Leddy from her book, "Radical Gratitude. "
We are grateful.
You have given us this day
and have given us this way
to say Thank You.
We thank you for giving us
what we need to be grateful.
We offer back to You
all that we have
all that we are.
We know our thank you
is as fragile as we are
-it can be crushed
by the care of the moment
-it can disappear
in the heat of the day
-it can be blown away
by the winds of suffering.
And so we ask You
to take our small thank you
into Your great act of Thanksgiving:
You, Lord of the loaves and fishes,
You who are from God
with God and for God,
You in whom it is all
Yes and Amen.
May you experience the joy that comes from serving with a grateful heart. And if you're the one in need of help this year, may you allow yourself the freedom to be vulnerable and accept God's grace in the form of loving people around you.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on gratitude. Do you have a gratitude practice?
Is there anything you're extra thankful for this year?