Grateful for Gratitude Itself

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I’m grateful for

Family and friends (including the shaggy, four-legged one, Ellington)

Colleagues and students

Buskers on the streets of Asheville

Finely crafted sentences and intricately simple music

Streams, rivers, peaks and hollows (hollers)

Soaring hawks and swimming ducks, cardinals and blue birds, lumbering black bears and scampering squirrels 

Malted milk balls and cinnamon spice tea

Health insurance and skilled medical care-givers

The Book of Common Prayer and its uncommonly moving prayers

Worship and wonder, pipe organ and hymns, bread and wine

And, I’m grateful for gratitude itself, because it tutors me in humility. It opens my eye and heart to the truth that I’m dependent for life itself on the work and kindness of other people and, especially, on the faithfulness and generosity of God.

Thankfulness makes it possible for me to know how much is enough and to cut the nerve of craving for more. Wayne Mueller asked: “What if we have been sent spinning by the loss of some deeply elemental knowing, some reliable inner compass, some way of sensing the moment of inherent sufficiency in things, forgotten what enough of anything feels like?” Being grateful points me to a God’s loving abundance and away from fearful scarcity, inspires me to use wisely and well what I have, and to share generously the resources entrusted to me. 

Thankfulness ushers me into joy. The remarkable rabbi, Abraham Joshua Heschel said: “As civilization advances, the sense of wonder declines. Such decline is an alarming symptom of our state of mind. [Humankind] will not perish for want of information; but only for want of appreciation.” The door to gladness swings on the hinges of praise.  

In his poem, "Gratefulness," George Herbert prays: "Thou hast given so much to me. Give one thing more--a grateful heart."

Gratitude is one of the finest gifts, because it is the surest way to recognize and rejoice in everything else.