Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Present to the Moment: Gratefulness

Tettegouche State Park

The more present I am to the moment, the more attentive I become to all that surrounds me. I begin to see people—I mean really see them. When I am attentive to others, I am surprised by gracious interactions with those close to me as well as those who just grace my life for a moment. Someone smiles as I pass by. An acquaintance asks if he or she can pray for me. A friend sends and email asking how I am doing. A loved one ends a phone call with the words, “I love you.” All of these touch me with God’s love—if I am present to the moment to receive them.

As well as seeing people with fresh eyes, I begin to notice anew the beauty of God’s creation. Last week Sharon and I spent six days on the north shore of Lake Superior. What rugged beauty! The shades of green and blooming Lupine were spectacular as we took drives up the shoreline several days. Other days we spent our whole time sitting on the rocks near our cabin. Simply watching the birds and the large ships pass by, or listen to the waves as we spent time reading, it was a wonderful time of refreshment and healing.

What happens when I become present to the moment and truly see the beauty of God’s creation? The more I notice the blessings around me, the more thankfulness grows in my heart. I become grateful. Often it begins simply by noticing the flowers and birds and colors that a day earlier I was not seeing. That attentiveness moves into joy—I find myself smiling more and more. Then the joy begins to break out in gratitude.

Cultivating Gratefulness
I believe we can cultivate a heart of gratefulness in several ways. First, we cultivate gratefulness by noticing the good that God gives. It is interesting that often the wealthiest and most successful are the least grateful. They become accustomed to having what they want—and they always want more.

Second, we cultivate gratitude by expressing it back to God is thanksgiving. Gratefulness needs to be expressed. It is like flowing water—the more it flows, the more momentum it gains. Alone on the rocks along Lake Superior, I expressed my gratefulness to God through singing and worship—what a wonderful opportunity to praise the Lord in creation! Other times I express my thankfulness by writing it down to the Lord in my journal. Still other times I articulate it in words to someone around me. Recently Sharon and I have begun to celebrate the beauty of creation through photography—that has been so much fun and so rewarding!

Central to All Spiritual Growth
Gratitude is central to all genuine spiritual growth. To grow in thankfulness is to grow in the Lord. And to grow spiritually is to increase in thankfulness. As Ronald Rolheiser has said: Show me someone who is spiritually mature, and I will show you someone with a grateful heart!

The more I nurture thankfulness in my life, the more I grow—in victory over discouragement, in energy pursuing the Lord, and in kindness to those around me. This summer I want to continue cultivating genuine gratefulness in my heart and expressing it through my words and actions!

© 2011 Glenn E. Myers

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