July 30, 2015
“I’m sometimes grumpier when I stay at a nice hotel. I have certain expectations about the service that’s going to be provided. I get impatient if I have to crawl around looking for a power outlet, if the shower controls are unfathomable…. I’m sometimes happier at a budget motel, where my expectations are lower… where a functioning iron is a bonus and the waffle maker in the breakfast area is a treat.”
So writes Op-Ed columnist David Brooks in a recent piece in the New York Times called The Structure of Gratitude (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/28/opinion/david-brooks-the-structure-of-gratitude.html?_r=0)
Ahhhhhhhh, gratitude …
Some of my all-time favorite quotations center on gratitude, like …
“If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough …” (Meister Eckhart, 13-14th
c. German theologian, philosopher and mystic); and
“Gratitude is the memory of the heart.” (Jean Baptiste Massieu, 17-18th c. French educator); and
“Here are the two best prayers I know: ‘Help me, help me, help me’and ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you.’“ (Annie Lamott, 21st c. American writer).
The practice of gratitude — of praying “Thank you, God!” (bringing to my mind/consciousness and heart, one by one, the various people, experiences and things for which I’m thankful - small, great and anything in between!), and expressing and saying “Thank you!” to people throughout the day - is one of my fundamental spiritual practices; if anything, it makes me happier and puts me in a peaceful, better frame of mind, wherever I am and whatever I’m doing. I find I’m happier when I’m focused on feeling gratitude and on acknowledging that everything and everyone is a “gift”, in one way or another, as opposed to something that I somehow deserve or am entitled to. Like the sun shining today - a gift! The clean, cold, ice water I’m drinking - a gift! My husband and two children - gift, gift, gift! My church family, our Interim Rector, and our Incoming Rector, the right people at the right time - gift, gift, gift! Thank you, God, thank you! Thanks be to God!
Of course, not all “gifts” are obvious … like the woman at the reception desk who must have missed the class on customer service … or that man around whom my blood-pressure and anxiety spike without fail … or that headache that hits me at just the wrong time …
And sometimes, an unexpected or unthinkable event or occurrence, that drops out of nowhere, stopping me mid-stride, leaving me shaken and unmoored, without solid ground I can feel to stand on, beneath me — sometimes, the “gift” in these events and occurrences is impossible to see or recognize at the time, or even months or years later. Our Lord’s promise to me — and to you — is that these, yes, even these, are redeemable “gifts” by His grace and love, our own limited, human sight notwithstanding.
And so, on this Thursday in July, with our summers in full-swing and our interim year soon coming to a close, I give thanks. I give thanks for the gift of all that has been this past year and for +Bob’s leadership during this time. I give thanks for all that is to come, for David+ and his future ministry and leadership among us. And I give thanks, as always, for the precious gift that is … today.
Thanks be to God!