Now that I’m almost done with my semi-regular Sunday feature of small group ministry sessions based on resources from SpiritualityandPractice.com (32 down, 5 to go), I’m feeling like I’d like to continue the practice. So once I’m done with Zeal, the final practice, I’m going to go back and revisit them all, beginning with Attention. However, since I haven’t posted much this month, I thought I’d slip in a extra session in honor of Thanksgiving (and to give me a chance to see what it’s like to come up with a completely new session on a practice I’ve already covered). Here, then, is another session on one of the foundational practices for anyone seeking to live a more spiritual life: Gratitude.
I think the dying pray at the last not “please,” but “thank you,” as a guest thanks his host at the door.
— Annie Dillard quoted in Super, Natural Christians by Sallie McFague
An Excerpt from A Listening Heart: The Spirituality of Sacred Sensuousness by Brother David Steindl-Rast
Brother David Steindl-Rast salutes the spirituality of sacred sensuousness and the importance of the listening heart. Here is an excerpt on the spiritual practice of gratitude.
Day and night gifts keep pelting down on us. If we were aware of this, gratefulness would overwhelm us. But we go through life in a daze. A power failure makes us aware of what a gift electricity is; a sprained ankle lets us appreciate walking as a gift, a sleepless night, sleep. How much we are missing in life by noticing gifts only when we are suddenly deprived of them! But this can be changed. We need some methodical exercise in gratefulness. Years ago, I devised a method for myself which has proved quite helpful. Every night I note in a pocket calendar one thing for which I have never before been consciously thankful. Do you think it is difficult to find a new reason for gratitude each day? Not just one, but three and four and five pop into my mind, some evenings. It is hard to imagine how long I would have to live to exhaust the supply.
Questions: Share one thing for which you’ve never before been consciously thankful.
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One chief idea of my life . . . is the idea of taking things with gratitude and not taking things for granted.
— G. K. Chesterton quoted in Celebrate Your Child by Richard Carlson
To Practice This Thought: Be lavish in your gratefulness.
For a PDF version of this small group ministry session, click here: Gratitude #2.
For more information on small group ministry, visit the UU Small Group Ministry Network.