One of my favorite authors on the practice of gratitude is Christine Pohl. Her book, Living Into Community: Cultivating Practices That Sustain Us, is full of practical ways to incorporate gratitude into a practice or ritual for everyday life. I think it is very fitting as we move into the third week of Advent, for us to take inventory of all we have to be thankful for. By doing this, we can all try our hand at incorporating our own practice of gratitude.
“Change your attitude to gratitude”. – Source Unknown.
When speaking about gratitude, Pohl writes, “Practices of Gratitude can be distorted when we imagine Christians are always supposed to be smiling and cheerful, even in the face of suffering, tragedy or grave injustice.” Pohl concludes this thought by saying, “Gratitude [in practice] involves knowing that we are held secure by a loving God and that the God we worship is trustworthy, despite the nearly unbearable sorrow we might encounter along the way.”
It is an interesting concept to think of practicing to be grateful. However, if you are anything like me, I rarely take the time to think back at all of the great things that I encounter each day. So often I neglect the small gifts I am given in the form of a green light when I am late, an extra few bucks in my account when I need a coffee, or even the affirming touch from my wife when I come home from a long day. I never say “thank you” for any of these gifts.
I don’t think I am alone in this.
If you continue to read Christine Pohl, she will tell you it is very difficult for people to adopt a posture of gratitude on a daily basis. But there is hope if we consciously make an effort to break out of our “normal” daily rhythms and incorporate time to express our gratitude. That might sound a lot easier said than done. But if you really think about it, I bet you can find a minute or two throughout the day to say thanks to God for the day you have had so far.
Just before you get out of your car to go inside.
These are all great time to take just a moment and say, “Thanks for getting me home today.” I think even something this simple will help to lift your spirit and help remind you, regardless of the day you had, that there is something we can all be thankful for. Take time to be thankful this week, and take your new ritual of gratitude with you into the New Year.