Compare WFTM: Jan. 21, 28, May 29.
“I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.” Philippians 4:11 NLT
What Gratitude Gives
*Read through these sayings. Which of these gifts of gratitude do you need most?
“The greatest thing is to give thanks for everything. He who has learned this knows what it means to live. He has penetrated the whole mystery of life: giving thanks for everything.” Albert Schweitzer
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.” Melody Beattie
“Gratitude empowers us. It makes joy and love possible. It rearranges the way we see and experience what is all around us. Gratitude makes all things new. It transforms how we understand what is broken and gives us the ability to act more joyfully and with hope.” Diane Butler Bass
“Like other forms of practice, gratefulness makes us more resilient and flexible, and also offers a way to frame and learn from everything that unfolds in our lives.” Kristi Nelson
“If you’re grateful, you’re not fearful, and if you’re not fearful, you’re not violent. If you’re grateful, you act out of a sense of enough and not of a sense of scarcity, and you are willing to share. If you are grateful, you are enjoying the differences between people, and you are respectful to everybody, and that changes this power pyramid under which we live.” David Steindl-Rast
(from the diary of Matthew Henry written one night after he was robbed of his wallet): “Let me be thankful; first, because I was never robbed before; second, although he took my purse, he did not take my life; third, although he took all I possessed, it was not much; fourth, it was I who was robbed, and not I who robbed.”
“This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24
*Read these quotes. Talk about your “gratitude attitudes.”
“There is an old story about a wise man living on one of China’s vast frontiers. one day, for no apparent reason, a young man’s horse ran away and was taken by nomads across the border. Everyone tried to offer consolation for the man’s bad fortune, but his father, a wise man, said,‘What makes you so sure this is not a blessing?’ Months later, his horse returned, bringing with her a magnificent stallion. This time everyone was full of congratulations for the son’s good fortune. But now his father said,‘What makes you so sure this isn’t a disaster?’ Their household was made richer by this fine horse the son loved to ride. But one day he fell off his horse and broke his hip. Once again, everyone offered their consolation for his bad luck, but his father said, ‘What makes you so sure this is not a blessing?’ A year later nomads invaded across the border, and every able-bodied man was required to take up his bow and go into battle. The Chinese families living on the border lost nine of every ten men. Only because the son was lame did father and son survive to take care of each other.” Peter Scazzero
“The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s ‘own’, or ‘real’ life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life–the life God is sending one day by day: what one calls one’s ‘real life’ is a phantom of one’s own imagination.” C. S. Lewis
“In normal life, we hardly realize how much more we receive than we give, and life cannot be rich without such gratitude. It is so easy to overestimate the importance of our own achievements compared with what we owe to the help of others.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in Letters and Papers from Prison
What Gratitude Does and Doesn’t Do
“Enter his gates with thanksgiving go into his courts with praise” Psalm 100:4 NLT
*Read these quotes. What are some things gratitude can do for you?
“I am not a psychologist. But, over the years, I have learned that emotions—whether positive or negative—do not behave very well when ignored or pushed aside. A good life, including healthy spirituality, incorporates the wide range of human emotions relating to each other in ways that make each of us unique and open us to a sense of purpose and meaning. Maturity is acting in a manner consistent with our inner reality, integrating feelings with intellect and integrity. Maturity is being fearless in face of emotions and owning up to feelings denied or derided. Emotions do not tell us that climate change exists or who the president of Zimbabwe is. They are not ‘facts’ in the way that scientific or historical data are. But feelings are the data that point toward our inner realities. Feelings alert us to what is unresolved in our lives, what is missing in our hearts, the brokenness that needs mending, and the relationships that need tending. When we do not feel grateful, something is blocking the feelings—and whether that something is learned or feared is important to explore.” Diane Butler Bass
“Gratitude is not a psychological or political panacea, like a secular prosperity gospel, one that denies pain or overlooks injustice, because being grateful does not ‘fix’ anything. Pain, suffering, and injustice—these things are all real. They do not go away. Gratitude, however, invalidates the false narrative that these things are the sum total of human existence, that despair is the last word. Gratitude gives us a new story. It opens our eyes to see that every life is, in unique and dignified ways, graced: the lives of the poor, the castoffs, the sick, the jailed, the exiles, the abused, the forgotten as well as those in more comfortable physical circumstances. Your life. My life. We all share in the ultimate gift—life itself. Together. Right now.” Diane Butler Bass
“Some of our problems with feelings occur when we cannot embrace what is just there, when we judge or fear our own emotions. One of the most helpful teachings in Buddhism is the idea that suffering simply exists and that it is intensified by human refusal to acknowledge the reality of pain. Suffering actually increases when we resist, deny, or fear negative emotions; those emotions often cause shame; and shame blocks gratitude. As human beings, part of our job is to be able to recognize what causes pain, to work toward healing, and to learn how to live in the world with empathy, forgiveness, and gratitude. Embracing our humanness, with its mixture of sadness and joy, fosters vulnerability and authenticity and takes us toward maturity and deep love.” Diane Butler Bass
(1) Upon Rising: Asking “How will God come to me today?”
“In one of his most famous poems, the Sufi poet Rumi compares the human heart to a guest house. Every morning, he says, there is a new arrival, including the often unexpected and unwelcome visits of depression, meanness, envy, shame, malice, and myriad dark thoughts. Welcome each guest in, the poet says, and treat each one honorably. Be grateful for whoever comes / because each has been sent / as a guide from beyond.” Judith Valente
(2) Built Into Each Day: Contemplation
“Silence and solitude both erode our own grandiosity, and provide a fertile soil for gratitude to grow.” Cherie Harder
(3) Giving Thanks Each Time You Receive: “Cheerfulness Practice”
““Constantly note anything that is pleasing,’ says Pema Chödrön. ‘Tiny things, little things. You were cold, and you put on your coat, and now you feel warm. Throughout the day, you feel a multitude of moments of fleeting happiness. You become more easily touched, more grateful for the smallest things.’ This ‘cheerfulness practice,’ as Chödrön calls it, shifts the balance in your emotional life and makes it easier to deal with hard things. . . . Note to yourself: “I have just given a gift” and be aware of how you feel. More important than the appreciation you may receive back is the cultivation in yourself of compassion and generosity. . . . Likewise, become more aware of those moments when someone has gone out of their way for you, or given you something. . . . You may or may not have the chance to say ‘thank you,’ but say to yourself, ‘I have just received a gift.'” Susan Edmiston
(4) When Walking: “Mindful Walking” (or with “mindful breathing”)
“When we practice walking meditation, we arrive in each moment. Our true home is in the present moment. When we enter the present moment deeply, our regrets and sorrows disappear, and we discover life with all its wonders.” Thick Nhat Hanh (i.e., “This is good. I am here.”)
(5) Before Retiring at Night: The “Examen” (simple, brief)
1. Be grateful for God’s blessings. 2. Review the day with openness and gratitude, looking for times when God has been present and times you may have ignored him. 3.Pay attention to your emotions in order to listen to God. 4. Express sorrow for sin and ask for God’s forgiving love. 5. Pray for the grace to be more available to God who loves you.” Peter Scazzero
For Further Consideration (before of after our discussion)
*Read slowly and thoughtfully through one or more of these prayers/poems. How is God touching you?
“For the wide sky and the blessed sun,For the salt sea and the running water,For the everlasting hillsAnd the never-resting winds,For trees and the common grass underfoot.We thank you for our sensesBy which we hear the songs of birds,And see the splendor of the summer fields,And taste of the autumn fruits,And rejoice in the feel of the snow,And smell the breath of the spring.Grant us a heart wide open to all this beauty;And save our souls from being so blindThat we pass unseeingWhen even the common thornbushIs aflame with your glory,O God our creator,Who lives and reigns for ever and ever.” Walter Rauschenbush
“I’ve been hated and loved,
I’ve been poor and had plenty,
I’ve been despised and rejected
and forgiven and accepted.
I’ve been invisible and forgotten,
I’be been sick, weak and broken, and
I’ve been made well, made strong, made whole.
I’ve lost it all, and gained it all back again–
This is my testimony:
That in the terrible consequences of
God has loved me and
Saved me from myself–
From the man
that I was
and couldn’t continue to be–
from the insufficient man
the disappointing man
the man of sorrow–
to a man with a heart for God and others–
a man who can stay,
a man who can wait,
a man who can listen,
a man who still grows,
a man who feels and loves.
And all this is why I say
that I have an almost constant sense of inexpressible gratitude.
that I want to live a life of irrational generosity, and
that I want to use what’s left of my life to show my gratefulness to God.
And this is what I mean when I say
that I can do all things
through Christ who strengthens me.”
William Britton (2/2018)
“You have made me so rich, oh God, please let me share out Your beauty with open hands. My life has become an uninterrupted dialogue with You, oh God, one great dialogue. Sometimes when I stand in some corner of the camp, my feet planted on Your earth, my eyes raised toward Your Heaven, tears sometimes run down my face, tears of deep emotion and gratitude. At night, too, when I lie in bed and rest in You, oh God, tears of gratitude run down my face, and that is my prayer.” Etty Hillesum in “Prayer from Auschwitz”