By Hamadziripi Chinhoi
Can I allow oneself to move beyond just the ritualistic thank you because I am conditioned to say so, is it an obligation or even because it’s a manner taught growing up and to a more intentional thank you that recognizes the presence of God in all things, a God who gives and continues giving. To make the move of just being good mannered, but to cultivate an attitude of gratitude.
Gratitude can be simply defined as the quality of being thankful, the readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. Gratitude is foundational to the life that so many people desire. A life that is well-lived, joyful, and connected to others and to God in good, healthy ways. Gratitude goes beyond being an attitude. It is more like an interior posture. Gratitude is about the way I position myself toward my own life, other people, creation, the world, and the Divine.
Since we have established that gratitude is a way of life, it should be expressed daily, for all things and pointing towards God always. It is an inherent desire in humanity to want to be better each day. In the quest for this relentless desire for growth, it is imperative that it continues to align with God’s greater glory for we cannot be truly grateful if we do not acknowledge him sincerely in all things.
There are three simple ways in which this could be done Daily Examination of Conscience, All Things and Pointing Back to God.
Daily Examination of Conscience – This is the art of realizing the presence of God around oneself throughout the course of the day. At least three times a day (morning, midday and evening) to take stock of how my day has been and being grateful for each moment and action. It could be a traffic light turned red as I am approaching, I smile interiorly, grateful for the chance to ponder God’s presence in the brief moments of stillness the detainment affords. Every tree and flower, the blowing breeze, and every face I see contain God’s mysterious glory. I offer a simple prayer of thanks to this loving Father who provides everything I need.
All Things – Daily living encompasses a slew of emotions, activities, and relationships, all of which are gifts from God. In the spiritual exercises of St Ignatius on the Contemplation to Attain Love it broadens this awareness to the gifts of our entire lives, including our birth, family, friends, talents, interests, sacraments, and even God’s very desire to dwell with us. Can we say thank you for those gifts of a lifetime which God bestowed upon us?
Pointing Back to God – Whenever I am grateful for the little things that others do for me in this life, I am also grateful to God who makes these relationships possible. The very expression of gratitude is a prayer in itself. Even during the highest form of celebration to Christ i.e Mass, the Priest says, “Let us give thanks and praise to the Lord,” the congregation responds, “It is right and just.” Indeed it is truly right and just, our duty towards salvation. I ought to keep it in mind that it is God who makes this all possible.
Being a young Zimbabwean and the harsh political, economic and social environment encountered daily, I can question myself what is there to be grateful for? Our youth being robbed, unemployment rising, cost of living getting higher, drug abuse, more child headed families, disease, sexual abuse among other vices one tends to ask what is it can I be thankful for? Remember 1 Thes 5:18, “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Jesus Christ.” This is a strong reminder that no matter how difficult things can get, we can always be grateful to God for His purpose is bigger than your problems. We can learn to only turn the difficult times into lessons for a better tomorrow.
Our gratitude can be expressed in charity too. Charity is the highest form of expression of love signifying the reciprocal love between God and Man. St Paul describes this well in 1 Cor:13. Without love we are empty, broken, alone and miserable. Therefore, each day take a moment to show an act of charity through being generous with your time, energy, resources, empathy and presence. For it is through this generous and loving actions that others can realize the power of gratitude. An attitude of gratitude can grow when we love and we are also loved.
Gratitude opens the heart, Gratitude shifts the mind into perspective, Gratitude is not always easy but, simple to practice, Gratitude is greater than one person, and Gratitude helps us build a history with hope and intention. Gratitude is more than a prayer or an attitude or a helpful strategy. It is a way of seeing, a way of remembering and a way of proceeding. May each of us practice gratitude a little more as the days and years go by!