On Gratitude

Ash Wednesday may seem an odd day in which to write about gratitude and yet, many of our actions (or non-actions) seem to arise out of an unwillingness to embrace God's love for us. As Marjorie Thompson writes, "Our first act of hospitality to God is to receive what God gives. How distressing for God to offer grace so freely, only to have us refuse or ignore it!" She then goes on to list the many ways in which we close "the door on divine love" by allowing "ourselves to become distracted and preoccupied. . . [by] decide[ing] that we are unworthy. . . [by] convince[ing] ourselves that we must first prove worthy of receiving something. . . . . It takes genuine humility to receive God's gifts."1

Today, I am grateful for:
  1. My partner, family, and friends who are a continuous source of support and encouragement;
  2. The cool, damp, freshness of snowflakes as they land on my face;
  3. The privilege of being a full-time student;
  4. The writings of Gregory of Nazianzus who - sarcasm and all - fill me spiritually;
  5. Time off from classes; and
  6. The love of God no matter what I do, no matter what I think, and no matter who I think I am.

In Lent we often talk about abstaining from xyz (chocolate, caffeine, swearing, etc.). We frequently frame this as a "giving up" of something that we like. This Lent, I propose giving up something we don't like - an attachment that keeps us from knowing and experiencing God in our daily life. And so, I commit to abstaining from withholding my gratitude.

1 Marjorie J. Thompson, Soul Feast: An Invitation to the Christian Spiritual Life, (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1995), 125.