“If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.” Meister Eckhart 1260-1327
I have been discussing this concept of gratitude with a couple of friends, and have come to the conclusion that we aren’t really saying ‘thank you’ as much today as I experienced growing up half a century ago. Are we less grateful, or were we on automatic those decades ago?
Unfortunately, I believe that we are less grateful. Have we developed a feeling that we are privileged and an expectation that there is no need to say ‘thank you’ since after all, we expect to receive, and those two words are simply a waste of time?
As we look back on 2022 what the hell is there to be grateful. I could run a list, but you know what those things are. One thing to consider is trends. Is change. Trends don’t last, they do change. Just like a stove doesn’t stay hot forever. Likewise, looking in the rear view mirror can bring us a lot of ideas to change and adjust, to make our lives better in ’23. We can learn from the lessons of ’22 and be thankful that we had them, and will grow from the examples we found in examining them .
Socrates said that an ‘unexamined life is not worth living.” He was speaking of developing a philosophy through considering just how you were living your life and just how that philosophy fit into it. In his case, it was selecting death over exile as he understood that he would be cut off from many of the philosophers and ideas he needed to continue the examination of his life. To him, death was preferable.
I’m not for a moment suggesting that we start laying in a supply of hemlock, but I am suggesting that we begin to look at our lives in depth and begin to understand that the greatest gift we can give others is our time, to be fully present and engaged. Can we not slow down time and spend more of it with others, listening and not “preening our peacock feathers.”
Yes we can be grateful, not only to our Lord, but also to the people and events, good and bad, that we experienced in the past year. What did we learn from the failures and successes, and how can we build on them.
At the very least, we can say those two words and mean them.
JVH with a lot of help from my colleague, Astrid.