If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is “thank you”, it will be enough. (German philosopher Meister Eckhart, d. 1328)
A little more than a month ago, I read an Advent reflection of Mary deTurris Poust in which she highlighted the importance of daily expressions of gratitude. She suggested writing three specific reasons on separate slips of paper and putting them in a “gratitude jar.” I have been writing gratitude lists in journals for more than twenty years, but I thought I would take Mary’s suggestion and put folded Post-It notes in one of my large Botswana baskets. I wrote these notes during my morning reflection time.
Today, I emptied my “gratitude basket” and was surprised to find 50 slips of paper! They reflect what December 2020 was like for me, partly because of COVID-19 and partly because of the time of year. Some, however, reflect my life pretty much every day of the year: I mentioned coffee from Guatemala three times! I want to share my gratitude notes with you now because I think you may have had similar blessings amid your losses and sorrows, and as a reminder to myself to continue the practice in my journal.
I started each note with “Thank you, God, for” or “I am grateful for” or “I am grateful that”. I omitted the names of specific people here, but they will recognize themselves, I’m sure.
Gratitude for my home: being able to live independently in my beautiful home; heat in the house and warm afghans on a cold morning; my four “Grateful” coffee mugs; reflections of the sunrise on the marsh; sandhill cranes, snowy egrets and other birds in my backyard; access to clean water for drinking, bathing, and laundry – in my own home; candles and the women who made them.
Gratitude for the environment: clear and bright mornings and the world outside my lanai; gorgeous sunset at the beach last night; my favorite trees — palm, bamboo, acacia, banyan, weeping fig, and baobab; my favorite flowers — bird-of-paradise, hibiscus, southern magnolia, periwinkle, crape myrtle; my favorite beaches — Sanibel Island, Siesta Key, Kiawah Island.
Gratitude for connections: my sister; photos of grandparents and parents that I can share with my nephews; Christmas cards and emails from friends and family; a cousin’s reaching out by phone yesterday; that two cousins are recovering from COVID-19; ZOOM; the U.S. Postal Service; flower delivery that brought a smile to a woman facing a big disappointment; my brother-in-law’s cheerfulness and willingness to help with household repairs; a picnic-table visit with a good friend.
Gratitude for books, the arts, and pastimes: “Let Us Dream” by Pope Francis; Rick Steve’s book about Christmas traditions; crossword puzzles in the middle of the night; live-streamed music from the Sarasota Orchestra.
Gratitude related to food: homemade banana muffins with peanut butter; this Italian bread; resources to stock up on groceries and provide meals for my family; grocery store workers at my local Publix.
Gratitude for this year’s holidays: good holidays with simpler decorations; a Christmas that was better than any Hallmark movie!
Gratitude for spiritual gifts: the joy of receiving gifts I didn’t know I needed so much; a spa afternoon with my sister — the joy of her touch and unconditional love; yesterday’s Zoom Scripture sharing and prayer.
Gratitude for health: a nine-hour sleep, waking with less pain than yesterday; a smaller number on the scale, even if only .8 lb.; for an appointment for an MRI, even though it’s not for another week.
Gratitude for world in which we live: scientists who have labored long and hard to develop this vaccine; the $900B COVID-19 relief fund; the release of the 300 Nigerian boys who had been held captive, and for those who lent their hands and hearts to this mission.
Q. What would your list look like?
Q. In what ways can you show gratitude for your blessings?