… The consciousness of gratitude—that deep and abiding feeling of aliveness, well-being, serenity and joy—is a singular pleasure that transcends thought and circumstance. It is not a philosophical tenet or a theological doctrine to be debated and honed by rational discourse. It is not just another good idea to set alongside all the others. It is an experience that wells up from the ground of Being beyond the reach of the mind and its conceptual field. The consciousness of gratitude is not so much a way of thinking as it is a way of being. It is not something we achieve as much as allow. One thing's for sure. When you get one taste, you want more.
“Help me learn how to pray.” It is a statement or question that as a minister, I get often. As I read the Gospels, I notice that Jesus must have also gotten that question quite a bit because so much of his teachings are on how to pray.
One lesson that Jesus gives over and over again is on the power of gratitude as a prayer. So often we think of gratitude as an effect. We say thank you after the fact. But when you read the stories of Jesus, particularly the stories of the miracles, we find him giving thanks to the Father in advance of his request.
As I look back on the last four weeks of writing this series and reading each entry multiple times, one question keeps popping up: Now what?
Now that I have put my thoughts on paper, gained a little more clarity, expanded the capacity of my own spiritual practice of gratefulness and thankfulness, where do I go from here? I wonder if I have been changed in any way, or if I will do things a little bit differently today.
“I had a farm in Africa at the foot of the Ngong Hills ...” This is the opening sentence of the book Out of Africa, and it’s probably one of my most cherished lines from any book.
From one sentence that says so little, my attention is caught and my imagination kicks in. I begin to wonder what will come next as my curiosity builds.
Where is this story going?
Will anyone else be touched by it?
The other morning I had a meltdown. By meltdown, I mean I was crying so hard I couldn’t catch my breath. This kind of intense crying isn’t something new; I have experienced it during the most painful times of my life. The difference, though, on this morning was that I was weeping in celebration. I had opened myself so completely to acknowledging the reality of wholeness that the tears overflowed as I was wrapped in the compassionate arms of another.