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
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!