Many years ago now there was a catchy commercial that splashed into the marketing scene with people wearing milk mustaches with the slogan, “Got milk? It does a body good.” Milk, the marketing firm realized, was more than a household staple. It was something to which people were emotionally attached. Milk is the first meal of every child born anywhere. Truly there is more going on with milk than just the carton we buy it in or producers who supply our grocery stores!
Gratitude may not hold the same strong emotional attachment that milk does but I would offer that gratitude does a body good. Gratitude has the potential to change our lives and our world!
Gratitude is being grateful and more. It holds the deep well of thanksgiving and the ancient word ‘eucharist’ which means gratitude, to show grace or favor. One of my favorite authors, Ann Voscamp writes, “Eucharisteo—thanksgiving—always precedes the miracle.” This is from her book One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are.
Where are you living right now? What are your circumstances? Do you dare to give thanks in the midst of those circumstances? Who do you give those thanks? And who or what is worth the effort of gratitude?
As a pastor of this small church in a world of declining church attendance, sometimes it can be difficult to give thanks. In the midst of people’s lives I minister with and to people hurt by diseases, surgeries gone wrong, substance abuse, with plenty of cancer diagnosis to go around, unable to live on the meager disability check, who are homeless, with children who are struggling, including teenagers, young adults and children. These don’t begin to touch all the world’s problems including the Coronavirus and refugees fleeing life threatening conditions in countries across our world. I sometimes wonder how are we to give thanks right here, right now.
I am thankful to Ann Voscamp for she offers us a secret on how to give thanks, cultivating gratitude one moment at a time. I believe you and I can do that too. All it takes is a moment, a change in our way of seeing what is in front of us. A decision to choose gratitude this second, this instant, this minute. As Ann says, ‘Thanksgiving always precedes the miracle.’
I have become convinced that we can’t be aware of the miracles in our midst until we begin to look for them in tiny moments of grace. The small blades of new grass who whisper ‘spring is coming’ are missed, unless we look for them. In the same book mentioned above, Ann writes, “I want to see beauty in the ugly, in the sink, in the suffering, in the daily, in all the days before I die, the moments before I sleep.” “And when I give thanks for the seemingly microscopic, I make a place for God to grow within me.”
I invite us this day, to take a few moments to notice the beauty in the most unlikely places. Then as we notice, let us name one or two or ten experiences, things or people for which we can give thanks. If possible, let us write them down. As we do, I believe we will find there is more and more room for God in our hearts. We will see the miracle of God’s love and grace grow in our lives and in those around us because we have found the secret ingredient, the gift we didn’t know we had, gratitude. It does our body and our world good.