The following is a brief summary of the audio, which is available by download here.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances…
Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”—Philippians. 4:4-7
In her final talk on gratitude, Linda Douty describes some of the ways we change when we become gratitude and walk to the beat of a grateful heart.
She begins with prayer, noting that the idea of praying constantly was initially a difficult one for her to grasp. Then she reflects:
Praying constantly is a connection that develops as a result of a deepening relationship with God and a growing alliance with your true self as parallel journeys. In some ways, they are the same journey.…. It’s as if the perceived distance between creature and Creator lessens as the relationship deepens, opening the way to unity of spirit. It’s not that we become God, but that our relationship to God’s spirit becomes more intimate, more infused, more effortless, more reflective of the ‘kingdom within.’
This same spiritual movement toward unity is at play as we journey from simply making grateful choices to actually becoming grateful people. It’s difficult to experience gratitude as a constant condition, but it can be consistent. Over time, thanksgiving can seep into our bones and become a part of who we are.
So what are the hallmarks of embodied gratefulness? Douty identifies five ways of being that characterize the thankful person:
Worry to Wonder
"Worry dissipates gratitude, pushes it to the margins of the mind, and takes over the territory.… When worry leaves the premises, there is room for wonder to be ushered in and for anxiety to be turned into awe.”
“The authentic self doesn’t want to pretend anything; it wants to be transparent, true, real.…
Genuine gratitude comes from the authentic self, so genuinely grateful people don’t have an ego investment in how thankful they are or appear to be.”
“For Christians who take scripture seriously, tragedy often bumps up against the biblical injunction to ‘be thankful in all circumstances.… Participating in paradox is to open our hearts and spirits to embrace the expansiveness of both/and thinking, leaving behind the constrictive confines of either/or thinking. Becoming comfortable in a world of contradictions is a prerequisite for being grateful in all things.”
“It’s difficult to be true to who we are if we don’t know who we are. Likewise, it’s impossible to obey the still small voice of God if we are unable to distinguish it from the voice of our own ego.… Authenticity is about being an informed citizen of our own inner landscape and living out of that holy place, that essence where we encounter the spirit of God in the shaping of our inner voice. As we do that, gratitude seems to appear as sacred serendipity.”
“Love for life isn’t about being grateful about something, or for something, but just for Life itself; it simply is. A life of becoming gratitude is lived day by day, moment by moment, and breath by breath.”
Perhaps true gratitude is simply saying yes to Life.
Yes, on all its levels and layers.
Yes, to the yin and yang of our existence.
Yes, in an embrace wide enough to encompass everything.
Yes to the loving invitation of the Holy.
Let’s welcome these words as our sacred benediction:
For all that has been, thanks.
For all that will be, Yes!