Over the last week, or so, life has been very hectic: We turned Scargill into Narnia which was such good fun, then I was at Lee Abbey speaking on ‘Laughter and Lament’ with David Rowe, followed swiftly by my son’s wedding which was an amazing occasion.
There is a huge amount to be thankful for.
Psalm 111 says: ‘ I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart.’ Meister Eckhart once said,’if the only prayer you say in your entire life is “thank you” that would suffice.’ Gratitude is a crucial spiritual discipline to foster in our lives for it is the great antidote to cynicism which has the capacity to suck the life out of us. Gratitude, I think, is the gateway to playfulness and childlikeness.
Mark Yaconelli in his book ‘wonder, fear and longing’ writes, ‘It is good to give God thanks not only because God has given us so much, but perhaps more importantly because of what gratitude does to us. It is hard to be anxious when you are grateful. It is difficult to keep you guard up, to be cold and defended when you are overcome with thankfulness. Prayers of gratitude open the gates of the heart so God’s love can enter in.’
A good friend of mine, who I worked with on the Lee Abbey Youth Camps, taught me the importance of gratitude even when life can seem so tough and difficult. He encouraged us to think of at least 5 things we could be thankful for, like the taste and smell of good food, the love of friends, the pleasure of sunsets, the beauty of flowers, the freshness of toothpaste, the nourishment of sleep, and the sugar rush obtained from jelly babies. Wouldn’t it be good if we could just open our eyes to give thanks daily for all of God’s grace and love that we see around us.
Giving gratitude isn’t something that comes easy to us. It is a discipline.
Joan Chittester says, ‘As he was dying, Abba Benjamin taught his disciples his last lesson,”do this,” he said,”and you will be saved: rejoice always; pray constantly; and in all circumstances give thanks.”‘
This coming week, I’m going to try my very best to be grateful. Would you like to join me?