Sunday, November 3, 2019

The Quiet Grace of Gratitude

"What would you do if you woke up tomorrow morning and all you had is what you thanked God for yesterday?" That message, which landed on my Facebook timeline several months ago, made me pause as it reminded me of the quiet grace of gratitude.

Gratitude isn't showy, bossy or bold. Gratitude is a quiet state of knowing, a peaceful place of blessing. 

Gratitude seems to be the perfect theme for November, a month marked by not only the American holiday of Thanksgiving, but also the quieting of nature. After the vibrant colors of summer followed by the crayon box of brilliant hues in October, November arrives appropriately in shades of tan and taupe. With it comes the opportunity to pause, to soak up the silence and to be grateful -- even to be grateful for making time to be grateful.

As human beings, our wants are often greater than our needs. When we pause and reflect on our blessings, both large and small, grand and everyday, immediate and evergreen, everything changes. When we're grateful, we often find that what we have is enough. There is a quiet peace in having that deep knowing that it is all enough, there is no need for more, what we have is already blessing.

As I joined three others from my church at an out-of-state conference last year, our pastor led us in prayer before we embarked on our road trip and before each meal. It didn't matter if we were at a fast-food restaurant or taking our sandwich with us in the car, she made sure that we spent a moment in reflection and prayer that always included the words "thank you."

One of those pre-meal reflections was based on a tradition in her household where those dining together share something aloud for which they are grateful that day. I found, as I always do, that when I am forced to think about my blessings, they seem to bubble up in such abundance that naming one blessing isn't sufficient.

As a child, our family's meal prayer consisted of these lovely words: "Thank you for the world so sweet. Thank you for the food we eat. Thank you for the birds that sing. Thank you, God, for everything."

I haven't said that prayer for a long time, but its words are affixed to my childhood memories and I realize that I should say them more often. As I look at those 26 words now, I see that they say it all. The prayer focuses on the good that surrounds us and is inside of us, the magnificence found in the details of the natural world, the blessing of having food to nourish our bodies, and the realization that everything, everything is blessing.

Everything is blessing. Everything.

As an adult, I often experience overwhelming feelings of gratitude. Those feelings are likely fueled by the daily conditioning I do of naming three things for which I'm grateful upon awakening and then repeating the practice before I fall asleep at night. The act of framing my day in gratitude affects my perspective all day long.

How do you experience the quiet grace of gratitude? Take a cue from the gentle shades of November and sit quietly, if only for a few moments each day, to express your thanks. Everything is blessing. Everything. May you feel blessed today and every day.


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