from the Spring/Summer 2015 edition of Reflections magazine. For more from that issue, go here.
by Chica Younger
We all live in a culture that seeks happiness. As a child I thought that only when things were going my way or that I had received a longed for word, object, relationship or accolade could I be happy.
As I grew older, I realized that there were some people I knew who had real tragedies in their lives but were consistently full of good humor, kindness, and peace in the midst of pain and sadness. These special persons could grieve, be sad or disappointed, even angry. But underlying their loss or sadness they also had a sense of an interior joy that emanated through their tough times.
Observing this phenomenon in others, I could see that their acceptance of life on life’s terms gave room for the joy that springs from a sense of gratitude. It seems to me now that the practice of acceptance leads to gratefulness for all things.
Gratitude for me is a discipline that I am committed to on a daily basis. This inner joy is the experience of claiming the true value of my life. It is seizing and accepting the gifts that are unearned, not bought, and freely given. Gratitude holds an opportunity in each day, in each moment.
No one is grateful for abuse, war, oppression or bereavement. But even in these painful moments there can be a creative act for me if I can only sit quietly, observe, and listen. I confess that when the hard times roll over me, I have to be constantly vigilant. Greed, worry, anxiety, and fear can easily take hold and bring me down. It is in the practice of quiet, of intentional listening and observation, that I can be more creative and claim the opportunity of gratefulness.
Like most spiritual principles, gratitude is a way of being, a real inside job. It is never contingent on what is happening on the outside. It is a discipline and a way of life. For me this practice has been a gradual shifting perception of my view of the world and of myself.
I am daily more aware of God’s love for me and the many blessings bestowed on me. I strive for increased gratitude as I see God’s hand in my life and in the life of others.
THANKS BE TO GOD. There is a reason we say this at the end of a service. It is always a saying I am reminded to take into my heart and into the world.