Imagine for a moment if, upon waking this morning, you found you had only those things which you had shown gratitude for yesterday.
What would you have?
Would you be reading this email on your phone or computer? Would you be sitting in your own home? Would you have a car in your garage? Would you even have a garage? Would you have family and friends to call upon?
It’s an interesting exercise in finding out just how often we show gratitude for things. Not even just the big things — the little things as well. Kleenex. Automatic transmission. Erasers.
It’s an interesting question in light of Sunday’s parable from Luke 17:11-19
On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then Jesus said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.”
Note here, that despite their failure to return thanks, all 10 lepers were healed by Jesus. Gratitude was not a prerequisite to be “made clean.”
However, note also that the only one who was “made well” was the 10th leper, who turned around to thank Jesus.
What’s the difference between “clean” and “well?” I certainly believe that all of us have been “made clean” by the new covenant for the forgiveness of sins that we celebrate every week at the baptismal font during confession and at the Table when we celebrate Eucharist. But I also know that there are an awful lot of people who are not actually WELL.
When I think of being “well” I think that it indicates a sense of wholeness — not merely a healthy body, but a mind and heart that is aligned with God’s will.
Recent research indicates that showing gratitude intentionally has a very positive effect on mind, body, and spiritual wellness.
Not that we needed scientific proof of something that is spoken of so often within our scriptures. Over and over in the Psalms we hear “Give thanks to the Lord; for God is good. . .” Not just the Psalms, but throughout scriptures there are many examples of poets and prophets and sinners recounting their gratitude for God.
Are we pretty quick to follow their example of gratitude?
Well if not, then perhaps put your mind to it, and dedicate some time each day to recount your own blessings. Consider how thankful you are for the big things (your family and friends, your faith and faith community, God’s amazing creation) and the little things (elevators, ice melt, windshield wipers, and tic tacs). Take a moment to write a note of gratitude to a friend or a neighbor — not for anything in particular, but just to thank them for being your friend.
Don’t drown in remorse for the things you have failed to show gratitude for; rather, change your thinking and your mindset.
And just imagine, then, if upon waking tomorrow morning, you found you had only those things which you had shown gratitude for today.
With Thanks to God for all of you,