Several years ago, at the invitation of a friend, I joined her in an unusual texting correspondence: every day, we would exchange short lists of particular things in our lives for which we were grateful. “Particular” was mandatory; no vague generalizations were allowed. They might be small, but they had to be specific (the first David Austin rose bud of spring, unexpected spring rainfall after a delicious lunch, a cancellation that freed up an hour of spaciousness in the day). We learned fairly quickly that gratitude can be a challenging discipline, with far-reaching implications for the way we see the world.
We interpret reality. We make choices all the time about what our eyes perceive, what we focus on, and we can learn to see in new ways. By the same token, we can learn to see grace in all things, changing our perspective, bringing us not just a more positive outlook on life but also drawing us into worship, our ‘sacrifice’ of thanks and praise to God (Hebrews 13:15). Appreciation of the gift of any good thing can lead us to love of the Giver. And as we realize that there is nothing outside the realm of God’s mercy, that everything is grace, that “there is faithfulness at the heart of things” (Benedictine monk and writer David Steindl-Rast), we can also practice seeing that God also gives meaning and hope even in the darkest and most difficult times. “Counting our blessings”, the simple accounting of the mercies in our lives, has changed our hearts, our attitudes, our perceptions.
The sheer gratuitousness of God is transformative!
Grace and peace,
Pastor for Spiritual Formation