Just Life

And | September 2020.

I just re-read last month’s OLW post. apparently the whole “I can” thing (which was also gist of my most recent post) has been going on here for at least a month. I didn’t put that together until just now. The feelings behind those “I can” posts were different … last month it felt more about freedom to choose the not-so-obvious path, and this month it feels more about strength. another powerful reminder of these “little” words. which brings me to today’s post and the ninth monthly reflection on this year’s One Little Word AND (with a heartfelt thank you to Honoré for hosting the meet-up and giving me the opportunity to reflect and share with y’all).

One of the best things about Back to Basics is that I now have about 30 minutes to read every morning. The “dark early” reading time is when I read about spiritual formation … the books that make me think hard about myself, my faith, and my life … and when they’re really good, inspire me to change.

This month’s AND is about gratitude. and the book that inspired me is Diana Butler-Bass’ Grateful (Goodreads link). I started the book on September 18

I love a good epigraph!

and finished it yesterday afternoon. Y’all, I thought I had gratitude down. (seriously, the mere-et-filles archives are FULL … it was my OLW back in 2008 – yikes! maybe don’t read?!) I’ve been closing out my daily journal entries with grateful lists, I say thank you, I write thank you notes, I join in communal prayers of Thanksgiving in church. AND yet. I never thought about gratitude as a muscle, much like I now see hope. Paraphrasing both Krista Tippett and Diana Butler-Bass:

Gratitude is a choice that becomes a practice that becomes spiritual muscle memory.

The big AHA for me was about the power of gratitude acting in community. about how our culture is based on transactional gratitude, how Christianity has corrupted Jesus’ message of gratitude (she includes bits from a sermon she preached in 2016 about the Zacchaeus story that shook me), and – fundamentally – how living in gratitude (not being thankful for, but grateful in) is truly the path.

I was even inspired to change my intentions.

I know we’re already nine months in, but I think it matters.

Close readers might notice I also changed the order of those more/less statements*. Yep. I am happy that nine months into this crazy year I still think every one of these statements is true to me … I’m just not placing quite so much emphasis on the judging 😉 and I loved bringing the new one in closest to the true intent.

I’m honestly not sure where “more gratitude in community” is going to take me, but I’m listening. The book’s epilogue suggests that communities should practice gratitude (what if we practiced “thanks” instead of “complaints”?, what if schools/churchs/denominations took a year to practice gratitude?, what if businesses emphasized how grateful they were for their customers?) and that we need to frame a new political language (eliminate “entitlement” and “benefactor” from our vocabulary, and most certainly all the quid pro quo, both in thought AND action). These next few months will set the course for how our country might truly “give thanks”. I’m voting next month. and hopeful.

I shared a few more of my thoughts about the book on Goodreads (and y’all know how much I really don’t like to do that!), and please – if anything I’ve said here strikes a chord, please … read the book!

As always, I am grateful for you … for reading, sharing your thoughts, and helping me build up those muscles. Thank you.

*and cleared the surface … that’s temporary … the season is changing! and I’m trying to decide about something tall!

 

12 Comments

  • Alexa

    Very inspiring to read how things have shifted for you, and how the power of words/thought has led to your changing your own so visibly. There’s an energy and almost-excitement in your post which is uplifting – and thank-you for it :). Trying to decide about something tall? I am intrigued … Hoping Marc is going to make the cut!

  • Katie @ The Cozy Burrow

    Your book sounds fascinating – thank you for the recommendation. Any book that broadens our awareness of gratitude is helpful, especially Right Now. I’m happy to hear that it’s made such an impact in your life.

    I love that you set your intentions on that board (sorry, I can’t think of what it’s called right now). I’m a relatively new reader and feel dense – is the second picture the “new” one? I think so, because it also includes gratitude!

    Your posts are always so hopeful, so thank you for providing so much inspiration. I know life has been hard for almost everyone lately and I’m thankful to receive so much hope from the bloggers I follow 🙂

  • Bonny

    It’s interesting how we choose our words at the beginning of the year and then they take off, grow, and evolve, and if things go well we grow and evolve with them. It sounds like that is certainly the case for you!

  • Sarah

    I really have to wonder if there would be more gratitude in this world if we all shifted our focus to caring about the community as a whole instead of ourselves. That’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot during this pandemic, when we’ve been so socially isolated and changing our daily practices in order to protect others. I’m so much more grateful for what I have because it’s become so much more salient for me. I think I’m going to continue working on building my gratitude muscle, like you, and maybe we can spread the word!

  • April

    My goodness, I think I need to read that book! Sounds like it holds an important message for our time. I agree with Sarah’s comment. Throughout the pandemic, as we have been asked to change how we interact with others, wear a mask, etc., I have thought about the lack of caring for our neighbor that I have encountered. I have been working to be more aware of those around me and I am sad to see the state our country is in when it comes to the “all about me” ideal that seems to have taken over. Mary, thank you for sharing your daily practice and the nuggets of wisdom you discover along the way.

  • Carole

    I’m going to need to give some real thought to how to practice gratitude in terms of community. I feel like I should be leading this as an elected official. Thank you for pointing it out.

  • lydia

    I’m all for more grace and gratitude out in our communities and would welcome LESS LESS complaining. Finally managed to carve out some well needed blog reading time!

  • Karen

    Your book review on Goodreads was wonderful. I read that before I read this blog entry. I appreciate all the time those reviews take, and I always appreciate your viewpoint.

  • Vicki

    While I don’t choose a “word” for myself, I follow many of y’all on your journeys… and that’s exactly what it is. And just like any other journey, you make discoveries along the way, follow where it leads, adjust. Especially this year, when everything is different, it makes total sense to change it up!