While making my porridge I practise gratitude – gratitude for the porridge, for being able to cook, for this body that can move and make, for being alive, being safe, and having food. I think about the importance of practising gratitude as a way to make explicit and grounded what is only implicit and theoretical. Practising gratitude brings me home to myself, to the present moment, and to You. It changes how I feel about life. I am content with how things are, where I am, what I am doing, rather than concerned about whether I am succeeding in life, getting what I want, achieving enough. To be able to make porridge is achievement enough for now. Gratitude includes this quality of ‘enough’.
Sometimes gratitude comes as a grace. Thankfulness for life rises spontaneously. I don’t think that everything is down to grace. The rest of the time gratitude has to be practised. Remembering and practising – the Examen, what Ignatius called ‘repetition‘ and the ‘prayer of the senses‘ – are important, else grace flourishes for a moment but does not take root. Perhaps, this is form of grace – the gifts of memory, intention, and will.
There is another world, and it is this one. The difference is the quality of our looking – looking with the eyes of humility, wonder, gratitude and love – to see the world as an outpouring of love and delight. The psalms help me, especially Nan Merrill’s renditions.
For life is but a breath in the Eternal dance,
a gift to be reverenced with trust,
an opportunity to grow in spirit and truth,
That in passing into new life, you enter into the new Jerusalem.
This sets the task of life clearly: Reverence and relish this gift of life that, in the context of the illimitable Universe, is so precious and so brief.
I wish I were better at this.