Reflection for Today:
Philippians 4:6 -Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
In 2011 I started writing a Gratitude Journal while reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. I kept the journal for a few years until 2014. Today I picked it back up again, dusted it off and flipped through the pages. Memories and moments, tears of joy and laughter, sadness and pain, people and places, all flooded my eyes as I scanned the past. It gave light to my present. The idea of the journal was to list in one line the most mundane things as a practice of gratitude; to be present to God as God was present in the small gifts. As you begin to list the graces, you notice God’s grace. As you notice the presents, you also notice God’s presence. The miraculous in the mundane.
I was finishing up a staff meeting with my co-pastor this week and I asked him how I could pray for him. He mentioned his desire to practice gratitude on a daily basis, something he has done before also by listing daily graces. Suddenly, I heard the invitation in my heart again. It’s not that I haven’t been grateful since 2014 when I last catalogued my last grace. However, even as I engaged the remembrance of gratitude as I read my journal today, a powerful flood of joy flooded my weary soul.
As Paul writes to his beloved church in Philippi, he doesn’t offer cheap platitudes about choosing not to worry, prayers, petitions, requests and thanksgiving to God. Paul, writing from a jail in Rome, encourages his friends and partners in the gospel to not only present their prayers and supplications unto God, but also present their thanksgiving. In these past eight months of a global pandemic, personal and public pain, compounded and collective grief, anxiety of elections if you live in the USA, loss of jobs and social isolation, I wonder how gratitude can be a sister with and a balm to grief. Gratitude transcends religion, political parties, socioeconomic status or walks of life. Gratitude may give us the grace to grow. Gratitude is human.
What are you thankful for today? Begin listing 5 gratitudes a day. List them in your journal, a phone note or even on a dry-erase board. Try to sustain this until…. the end of November.
Something to do?
Ask every person you speak with this week: What are you thankful for? Just listen. Gather the graces.
May we notice you in the small gifts all around us, however big or small. May we be attentive to your presence in each moment. God, we have held and continue to hold grief. Oh God, we can also hold grace and gratitude so that grief will not consume us. As we list our gratitudes, may we be met by your scandalous grace: at the kitchen sink, at the grocery store, at the next phone call. May gratitude be a weapon of your grace. Grant us thanksgiving lips and pens. Amen.
(✍️ Mark D. Roberts – edited NW)