The Awakening Gift of Gratitude

by Mark Votava


Gratitude does not make sense to my rational, intellectual mind.  My mind cannot understand how to practice gratitude because it doesn’t make sense most of the time.  I often ponder, “How can I practice gratitude when I am frustrated, angry or grieving.”

I have found this to be one of the most challenging practices in everyday life.  It seems that I am learning to live into this more by taking on life in a lot lighter way.  I am learning to laugh, smile, dream again, show more of my humor, and accept the things I cannot change with a gracefulness.  This has been so good for me!

  • Practicing gratitude will open up our imaginations

Practicing the humility of gratitude in our local context will open up our imaginations to our connectedness and commonality.  Seeing our friends as gifts from God and allowing relational revelations to surprise us constantly will open our imaginations to see one another anew.  To say “Thank you” to one another is such a simple but profound practice of gratitude.

  • Showing gratitude could bring healing

Do we alienate ourselves from one another when we refuse to say “Thank you”?  Our culture suffers from a lack of gratitude.  We would rather push others away from us than show them some gratitude.  Showing gratitude towards one another could bring about some healing to our broken society.

  • Authentic community nurtures gratitude

The communal imagination needs a spirit of gratitude.  Henri Nouwen says, “Authentic Christian community nurtures the spirit of gratitude …”

  • Teasing out the beauty in life

Gratitude has an authenticity to it that will tease out all the beauty that life has to offer us. Gratitude nourishes our relationships and gives us a peaceful rest in the midst of the stress of life and the pain it can bring.  Gratitude restores our life’s balance, which helps us to be whole in the midst of our pain.  Our pain will not destroy us if we embrace gratitude.

  • The miracle and gift that gratitude is to us

What a miracle the practice of gratitude is among us.  It is a precious gift that we should never take for granted.  The humility it cultivates between us in the parish is amazing.  The communal imagination embraces gratitude in everyday life.

  • Gratitude is always awakening us to new wonder

Thomas Merton writes, “To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything He has given us – and He has given us everything.  Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him.  Gratitude therefore takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder”

  • Seeing everything in life as a gift

Gratitude consists of responsiveness, awakening, and wonder.  When we see everything in life as a gift, this process of discovery never ends.  Every breath we take and every moment of our life are all gifts from God.

How have you practiced gratitude in everyday life?