Spiritual Practices: Gratitude

The quality that we so often seek in our lives is joy.  When we become wise enough to know that joy cannot be manufactured through short-lived pleasures, we might settle for less.  We might resign ourselves to what the writer of Ecclesiastes concludes: “there is nothing new under the sun.”  (Eccles. 1:9)

Or we could learn the secret to joy: gratitude.

There was a time in my life when I felt broken by the demands of ministry and my own compulsions.  I picked up Ann Voskamp’s book One Thousand GiftsShe helped me find my way back to joy by quickening my awareness of the goodness in every day.  When we pay attention to the small wonders, the gifts that we did nothing to deserve, joy slowly emerges and makes its home in us:

“Do not disdain the small.  The whole of life—even the hard—is made up of the minute parts, and if I miss the infinitesimals, I miss the whole…There is a way to live the big of giving thanks in all things.  It is this: to give thanks in this one small thing.  The moments will add up.”

“…life-changing gratitude does not fasten to a life unless nailed through with one very specific nail at a time.” (p.57)

It takes time to develop the habit, but it is worth it.  It did change my life, and it could change yours.

You might start with a gratitude journal.  At the end of each day take a few moments to write down those things for which you are grateful but did nothing to earn.  They might be as small as a smile or a snatch of birdsong.  They could be as big and significant as a renewed friendship or a better job.  In this way you will train your eyes to see the good that surrounds you.  It will expand your horizon and your heart, to see all that the Creator gives freely to you every day. 

May you awaken each day with a song like this in your heart: “Night Has Passed/Morning Has Broken”

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