United Church of Christ

Gratitude

“Can you think of a better way to live than in gratitude?”

I was given a book of spiritual musings written by an indigenous American, a member of the Ojibway nation.

I have been reading through it and finding it very meaningful. This morning as I grabbed it, it fell open to the page where I had placed my bookmark. In the middle of the page was that line: “Can you think of a better way to live than in gratitude.”

It was her response to a question that had been put to her: “What if we’re wrong.”

“About what,” was her response.

About religion in general – the ceremony, the prayer, the meditation.

“Then we still come out better people,” she said, then added “Can you think of a better way to live than in gratitude.”

It reminds me of the passage from Paul’s letter to the Philippians where he writes “rejoice in the Lord always;” and also in the letter to Thessalonians where it is written “Give thanks in all circumstances.”

There is something deeply rewarding about living a life in gratitude. It changes how we walk in the world.

I remember standing in a hospital room one night, my daughter in a coma and agonizing over how bad things were, and how much worse they were going to get. Dr. Clark, who had just rehearsed for me a litany of our daughter’s injuries that left Mimi and me breathless, had the audacity and wisdom to share this with us: “something good may come of this.”

It wasn’t a guarantee. It wasn’t a dismissal of her dire circumstances. None of us knew if she would survive this. It was a reminder that, although things were dire and likely her life circumstances were going to be altered no matter what, we should not stand there in her room without hope.

Those words helped ground us. When months later my daughter was able to walk out of her hospital room and begin putting her life back together again, I paused to reflect on the courage of Dr. Clark’s words to us. I found myself filled with gratitude.

We are in the season of Lent. It is a time to reflect on how we fall short of the mark. We often fail in our efforts to build good relationships with those whom we love; we fail to recognize the gifts we are given every day and to offer thanks for them; we fail to live fully into all the expectations given to us by our Creator in an effort to build and create Shalom.

Lent serves to remind us of those faults and failings, and to commit to a way of living that honors our Creator and ushers in Her vision of peace, love, hope, and joy.

Knowing that, it seems to me that living a life of gratitude can go a long way to building a better world. The wise elder tells us that even if all we have come to believe about our faith is discovered to have been wrong, when our faith leads us to rejoice always, to give thanks in all circumstances, and to live in gratitude then it will have served a noble purpose. That is good.

Fellow travelers, abide in the grace of our loving Creator. Find your joy in the simple pleasures. Take note of your blessings and live in a spirit of authentic gratitude. And may the joy and peace that comes from such a spirit be yours on this, your journey Into the Mystic.