Christie Purifoy (in Roots and Sky) writes: “I have always imagined gratitude as a kind of discipline. It is a practice. A choice. I still think this is true. However, I begin to glimpse a long-buried and misguided assumption. I have believed that the practice of noticing good gifts in my life would widen some sort of divine exchange. As if noticing the gifts and giving thanks for them could bring me more of what I noticed.”
Then her writing….journaling the seasons, and this..in November: “These days are dark, and I sometimes think I glimpse floodwaters rising. Yet because of November’s emphasis on gratitude, I cannot help but lift up my eyes to the mountains (Ps. 121:1) What if gratitude is more about seeing the face of God? Of locking our eyes on his and remembering where our help comes from? Perhaps gratitude is not only a discipline but also a gift, one we are given in special measure just before we pass through the door to suffering.”
I have experienced gratitude both ways: as a discipline which, when practiced regularly becomes easier and easier to offer for all the daily graces that God extravagantly pours out. Then, too, I have experienced it as a special gift that came unexpectedly and drew me close to the heart of God in moments too intimate and precious for others to understand (though God does the same for them in the ways that are intimate and precious to them, too, and only for their understanding!) It does seem that such intimate moments arrive just in time to fortify one’s heart and mind against one of the many blows that come in life…..a loss, a sad realization, a rising fear, a dark season……
As each day begins I arise with gratitude, hopeful that in each one gratitude will outweigh any suffering that finds its way into my life. While I cannot always avoid suffering, I can always look to the hills and know the source of my help, my strength and my salvation. For that, I am grateful.