Further up and further in

The Many Faces of Gratitude

Oprah Winfrey told a story about a time when she was facing tragic circumstances and felt almost breathless with dread and despair. She called Maya Angelou, a good friend, poet and philosopher, and spoke this despair into the phone.  According to Winfrey, Angelou immediately said – “Quick, what are you grateful for?”  Oprah thought she was hearing things – or her friend had suddenly gone crazy.  “What did you say?” Oprah cried.  Angelou replied “Think, now, about all the things that you are grateful for.  Take a breath and be thankful and full of gratitude.”  And so, Oprah did as she was told, and slowly her despair calmed itself.  Such is the power of gratitude.

I have kept a Gratitude Journal for a long time, now, and it has seen me through many troubled times.  Just the act of sitting and writing a list of things, both big and small, that I am thankful for can be helpful in facing a crisis – or a bad mood.  And you quickly come to realize that there is, indeed, so much to be grateful for.

Here are some different ways to express your gratitude.

  1. Keep your own Gratitude Journal. Write in it each (or almost each) day, and simply list 5 things you are grateful for.  Don’t bother to be elaborate.  It can be as simple as “this sunny day” or “knitting.”
  2. Create and decorate a Gratitude Box. Write, on small slips of paper, what blessings and graces you have received during the day. When you need a reminder, take out some of the slips of paper and read them over.  Again – remind yourself of God’s grace and bounty.
  3. Many of my friends on Facebook are participating in a Thanksgiving Challenge – to post on Facebook every day in November, one thing (or person) for which they are thankful. Posts have ranged from being thankful for husbands or wives to being thankful for medicine to control epilepsy, to gratitude and joy in the music of Frank Sinatra. Join the Facebook Thanksgiving Challenge or create your own, private, 25-days-of thankfulness.
  4. If you don’t already, start saying Grace at dinner. There are many books, as well as online sources, that list graces that are appropriate for all occasions. Try one. The Book of Common Prayer has a beautiful General Thanksgiving (on page 836) that we often say at our Thanksgiving table.  

Accept, O Lord, our thanks and praise for all that you have done for us.  We thank you for the splendor of the whole creation, for the beauty of this world, for the wonder of life and for the mystery of love.
We thank you for the blessings of family and friends, and for the loving care which surrounds us of every side.

We thank you for setting us at tasks which demand our best efforts, and for leading us to accomplishments which satisfy and delight us. 
We thank you also for those disappointments and failures that lead us to acknowledge our dependence on you alone.

Above all, we thank you for your Son, Jesus Christ;  for the truth of his Word and the example of his life;  for his steadfast obedience, by which he overcame temptation;  for his dying, through which he overcame death; and for his rising to life again, in which we are raised to the life of your kingdom.

Grant us the gift of your Spirit, that we may know him and make him known; and through him, at all times and in all places may give thanks to you in all things.  Amen

Annie Lamott, author of Traveling Mercies, says there are 2 prayers she says all the time.  “Please, please, please,” is the first; “thank you, thank you, thank you,” is the second.  There is power and healing in gratitude.  Practice gratitude and see.


Posted by Mattie Gustafson with

God in the Everyday

This weekend we hear from an SMC member Michelle Freitas who shared a powerful personal story about stopping to listen to God within during the everyday moments. She stressed a few things that are worth recapping:
When asked to tell a story of our faith journey, we can get nervous if it isn’t centered around some kind of a “mountain top” experience. What we really need is to be intentional about carving out time to silence ourselves and still our bodies and minds to hear God. After all, Jesus says “the kingdom of God is within you.” We should begin to cultivate the practice of looking for God who dwells within us and being attentive to the Divine voice, often gentle and subtle, but longing to hear from us. Think of is, as Michelle put it, as “taking time to visit with an old friend whom you can’t wait to see.”
With that in mind, we were challenged in Sunday’s program session to take one minute to share our story with a friend sitting next to us. For some it’s easy and for others it’s hard.
But think about it. What if someone asked you—a friend or a stranger at the grocery store—why you come to church or practice a certain spiritual path? Have you thought about what you’d say?
Michelle gave us a tip: Think about what in your spiritual life makes your heart full. Talk about that. Talk about what fills your heart to overflowing (that’s the Holy Spirit!) and start there. God will do the rest.
You won’t want to miss this coming Sunday 10/15 @ 9:10 in the chapel. We are going to pray intensely and intentionally, renew the promises of our baptism, and pray with each other using the ancient form of laying-on-of-hands to ask for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit in our lives and on our parish. Come, Holy Spirit!

Posted by Gabe Giella with