Any essay on gratitude should include four basic elements; that it is a gift, an attitude, a mission and a path.
The very capacity for gratitude is a gift from God that allows us to experience the joy of being and acknowledge the source of same. It is the purest of gifts in that it increases in value when it is given away. It serves as both sword and shield in the battles of life as it can fend off the demons of darkness and the fiery darts from hell. Whenever one can experience gratitude for the very capacity to be grateful, one moves closer to its author and in doing so becomes more aware and more appreciative of God, oneself and others.
The often voiced phrase “attitude of gratitude” is indeed a mouthful. Gratitude involves a major shift in focus which dramatically impacts one’s perception of any moment of experience. Past, present and future, either individually or in concert, can be altered. Globally experienced, it can acknowledge the past for its contribution to the present and then praise the present for the sacrament of the moment and for allowing the possibilities held by the future. Singularly, it generates a deeper richness to the experience of living. It speaks loudly to its own divinity in that it necessitates fundamental relationship and denies any self sourcing. One must rise from the tomb of selfness to experience gratitude, thus demonstrating its miraculous nature.
To taste gratitude is to accept the assignment of a mission. Not only must it be shared to become greater it also compels one do grow in fellowship with God, others and self. Mere awareness of it locks one in an embrace with responsibility and a declaration of destiny. My words are simply inadequate and too clumsy for the task of defining the mission, so I go in humility to God’s Fool;
Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
St. Francis of Assisi
Finally, gratitude is a path to purpose and thus, fulfillment. It is the most accessible method of escape from the prison of fear and desire and the tyranny of self servitude. It is much more than the key to our cells; it is the revelation that they were never locked! It tells me that it is always I who determines the severity of my sentence and who can negotiate the terms of my release. It presents more than the mere possibility of a fork in the road in that it reveals that I am at a fork at every moment while on the path to home and it points to the stars that grant assurance of right direction. The preciousness of the path lies in the illumination of the greater gift, the ability to choose at every fork and the incomprehensible, yet inescapable realization of the presence of my Father waiting with open arms at the entrance to my Home.
Robert, what a beautifully written and flowing article. Australia had it's first National Day of Thanksgiving yesterday, and from what I can gather it pretty much slipped by without too much fanfare. I guess we can have a set day of Thanksgiving instituted, but unless we really have that heart of gratitude, it isn't going to make much of a difference. I was blessed by reading your message this morning and also blessed by your encouraging comments on my story. Thank you so much for both! With love, Deb