In one of my
favorite books, One Thousand Gifts, the author Ann Voskamp thoughtfully
deconstructs the word Eucharist to help her define the principle of gratitude. Voskamp
refers to the passage where the term Eucharist is found and it reads, “He took
the bread, he gave thanks for the gift, and broke it” (Luke 21:11).
looks at the etymology and the context of the word Eucharist, she finds this.
essence, the term Eucharist means “giving thanks for God’s grace can bring us
joy.” This definition, while defining
Eucharist, is also a perfect segue into a blog on gratitude because gratitude
has an identical meaning. Gratitude is the act of finding joy through the
expression of thanks.
we have been living in a new reality that has put feelings of fear, loss, and injustice
at the center of our lives. During these uncertain times it has been easy to
lose sight of the many reasons we have to be joyful. When I started reading Voskamp’s
book, I was actively searching for ways to bring joy back into my life.
I had heard
many people say that living with gratitude can lead to feelings of happiness
and a state of contentment. According to most, however, living with gratitude
takes practice so I started my journey into gratitude by taking the easy way. My
first “gratitude list” included things that everybody is thankful for. I
thought about my family, my job, my home, and my health. Thinking about these
things satisfied me for a while, but as the days passed, this satisfaction
became momentary and at some point, the list felt incomplete. For the days that
followed, I challenged myself to actively look for things in my daily life that
I could include on my list. I took notes on the normal and the ordinary – and that
is when the gifts of gratitude started to reveal themselves.
thanks for the flowers in my backyard and the warm blankets I slept with in
bed. If I woke up to a baby wren sitting at my window, I would thank God that a
beautiful creature like that existed and I would secretly express thanks as I
realized how miraculous nature was. As I grew aware of how many wonderful things
existed in my ordinary day, I began to realize that I was living more than just
a good life, I was living a blessed life.
ability to express gratitude for these blessings began, this new attitude had
an amazing effect on my mood and feelings. The magic of gratitude is that you
can’t help but be reminded of God’s glory, grace, and the depths with which He
loves us when you start to recognize all the ways in which He has blessed your
life. You realize you have so much to be thankful for, and the intensity of this
realization and the power of that thought gives ways to feelings of true
happiness and moments of real unadulterated joy.
While it may take some time to fully feel
comfortable with this new normal, in the end, a joyous life does not depend
solely on our circumstances. Instead, I’ve found that finding joy in our lives depends
on our ability to recognize the beauty of God’s glory and grace our ability to
feel deep gratitude as we begin to see how much love he has for us.
First Presbyterian ChurchOF HADDONFIELD
20 King's Highway East, Haddonfield, NJ 08033(856) 429-1960