Spiritual Formation

Gratefulness, The Heart of Prayer

How grateful am I?  I asked myself recently.   We are moving into the season of Thanksgiving and Christmas gift giving.  Our culture now moves with great speed into these times even beginning at Halloween.  Where is gratefulness in any of it? I wondered.

IMG_0328Several years ago I read a book by Brother David Steindl-Rast who is a Benedictine monk, titled Gratefulness, the Heart of Prayer.  The first lines in the book drew me in:  “This book is about life in fullness.  It is about coming alive.  I could summarize it in two words:  Wake up!”  He goes on to say, “There is a surprise character of the world around us the moment we wake up from taking things for granted.”

How easy it is to get out of bed each day and enter into a routine that becomes mindless.  How much of life do I take for granted?   It might seem silly to be grateful for small things like a hot, steaming cup of tea but once I acknowledge this, I am in touch with gratitude for the clean water that came out of my faucet that went in the kettle on my stove in my own house with electricity to heat it so that I could enjoy it while driving in my nice car that I was able to fill up with gas on the way to my employment and ministry at the church.  Pardon the run on sentence but you get the point.

One little moment to stop and be grateful can jolt me awake to a lot of blessings I might easily take for granted!

Steindl-Rast encourages us to let even the ordinariness of life surprise us.  “Surprise is the starting point.  Through surprise, our inner eyes are opened to the amazing fact that everything is gratuitous.  Nothing at all can be taken for granted.  And if it cannot be taken for granted, it is a gift.  An inch of surprise can lead to miles of gratefulness.”

In this Holy season upon us, let people and nature and twinkling lights, and laughing children, and cups of hot tea and such  – and yes, even the most mundane tasks  – surprise you into gratitude!

-Kathy  Dobbins

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