Earlier this week I was struck by Andy Otto’s piece on grace. He writes “This is a kind of prayer, but by using the grace language, we acknowledge it only as a gift”
(you can read Andy’s post here http://godinallthings.com/2013/11/18/asking-for-a-grace/)
I have written elsewhere about grace and there is a chapter of Rooted in Love devoted to the idea of praying for a grace. But in reading Andy’s post I was struck by the connection between grace and gratitude.
Gratitude is perhaps the most important mental orientation we can cultivate. It shapes how we view everything. It is the lens through which we view our daily reality.
When I look around at the various aspects of my life – my family, my friends, the people I interact with in different circles, those who come to me for spiritual direction, my job, my colleagues, my living space, my education, the things I have done, the places I have lived and worked…. and so on, and so on, and so on…. I cannot help but feel a tremendous sense of gratitude and wonder.
There are things which I could view as being ‘unfair’ or that I somehow drew the short straw. I am not the most well off among my siblings, my odd career trajectory means that my contemporaries are further along the road than I am, a car accident in my youth has left my right leg slightly misshapen…. and some other ridiculous things I could choose to focus on. But this kind of attitude is simply not helpful to me. It doesn’t get me anywhere and it just encourages dissatisfaction. Given the richness of my life – this just seems poor form!
Living through gratitude makes it far easier to celebrate the small things in life. To feel both rich and blessed, with no need for any comparison. But in the absence of gratitude one can feel hard done by or that one doesn’t have enough (yet!) even in the midst of plenty.
In my understanding gratitude and grace are inextricably linked. I am far more able to see graces when I am more grateful. And I am more grateful for graces when they appear.
The practice of gratitude is something that can be cultivated. I found it very helpful posting one thing that I was grateful for on Facebook every day for a month or so made a big difference to me. My life feels more succulent although nothing has actually changed.