One Hundred and Counting

“To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything He has given us - and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him. Gratitude therefore takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise of the goodness of God. For the grateful person knows that God is good, not by hearsay but by experience. And that is what makes all the difference.”

Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude

 

1.      I am grateful for my life and that I am alive today.

2.      I am grateful to live without pain and that I able to move my body.

3.      I am grateful for my mental health and for clarity in my mind and thinking.

 

I’m at Holy Cross Monastery this week on a prayer retreat. There are twelve other friends here with me. We’re reading a favorite book of mine called, Space for God by Don Postema. I first found this book in my seminary bookstore nearly thirty years ago. It looks like a coffee table book, wider than it is higher. The cover features a gorgeous work of art by Vincent Van Gough.

 

16. I am grateful for my family: Leslie, Sam, and Miles; each one is a precious gift from God to me.

20. I am grateful for my Dad—that he is with me and in such good health.

21. I am grateful for my Mom, who loved me and for the healing that happened in our relationship before she died.

 

Space for God is a book that is about the “spirituality of gratitude.” The author makes a convincing case both biblically and theologically for the centrality of gratitude in the life of a Christian. I’ve always loved the quote by Thomas Merton that’s at the top of my article. Gratitude takes nothing for granted . . .is constantly awakening to new wonder and praise to the goodness of God. The grateful person sees the love of God everywhere, even in disappointment and heartache. The grateful person knows the goodness of God firsthand.

 

50. For the Bible, the Word of God—a lamp, a rock and book of life.

59. For Kirkwood Camp and Conference Center where I went as a camper when I was young and where I have also led retreats for many years; and most of all, because I met Leslie there!

60. For the Media Presbyterian Church and the role that congregation and those pastors played in my spiritual life and ministry.

 

I assigned our group the task to write a gratitude list with a hundred items on it. It took me about an hour to write. I started with the basics blessings of my life that I tend to overlook or ignore. Things like my health, mental health, and that I have access to clean water wherever I go. My family and friends were easily added to the list. I thought through the years of my formal education and my various experiences of ministry. I even included times of loss, sadness and disappointment on my list. I found reasons to give thanks even for those hard times.

 When I set my pen down, I was filled with deep joy and a keen sense of God’s presence with me and His blessing upon me. Try it! Write you own Gratitude List with 100 items. Give yourself the gift of gratitude.  

 

82. For the blessing and privilege of serving as Pastor of Thompson Memorial Presbyterian Church for 21 years.

83. For the generous salary I’ve received from the church all these years.

85. For the gift of our Seminary Interns.

100. I am grateful that God is faithful and God will not fail. I belong to God. I am forgiven. Nothing can separate me from His love!