Shower, O heavens, from above, and let the skies rain down righteousness; let the earth open, that salvation may spring up, and let it cause righteousness to sprout up also; I the Lord have created it. —Isaiah 45:8
We’ve been trained from the time we were small children to say thank you for gifts, for compliments, for anything someone does for us. It’s an excellent habit and goes a long way toward fostering an atmosphere of civility and goodwill. As we grow and mature, we learn to cultivate a deeper sense of gratitude beyond automatic words and gestures. It also breaks through the false humility that sometimes causes us to turn away compliments and deny our gifts. We discover the graciousness inherent in God’s providence and we respond with a gratefulness that flows from us to all those around us. Gratefulness teaches us that the things we have are meant to be shared; the gifts particular to us are meant to enrich the world.
The more we recognize our abundance, the more we want everyone to have that experience of grace and giftedness. And the more we share ourselves and our gifts with others, the more those gifts grow and develop. This deep gratefulness is learned not so much from being told to be grateful as from watching those around us respond to the gifts in their own lives. When my mom, who was always generous to a fault, was struggling in the final days of her life, I found myself reminding her of all the ways she had reached out to her family through the years. I was stunned that she didn’t recognize those gifts that were so apparent to those around her. As we recognize and appreciate our own gifts, we teach others to do the same. It’s good to have people in our lives who can remind us of this when we forget.
TAKE A DEEP BREATH
Reflect on this quote from Br. David Steindl-Rast: “The smallest surprise, received gratefully, yields a harvest of delight.” Let your memory surface times in your life when you experienced this kind of delight. Think about how you might surprise someone else.
A SIMPLE GIFT
Be grateful for the gifts you bring to the lives of your loved ones. We often neglect this when we’re taking a gratitude inventory.