The Spiritual Practice of Gratitude

This past Sunday Dan Johnson helped those of us who were able to attend the Faith Forum explore the spiritual practice of gratitude. This Easter season the people of St. Matthew’s and anyone who wants to join us are focusing on spiritual practices, as we continue to explore what it means to be learners or disciples of the Way of Jesus.

Dan began by asking “what is gratitude?” and then offered, “an emotion expressing appreciation for what one has. It is what gets poured into the glass to make it half full. It is also an acknowledgement of having received something good from another, a person or God.”

We discussed the relational aspect of gratefulness/gratitude, as well as the fact that the senses are involved.

Dan noted that our brains are giant filters. When we intentionally practice gratitude we tend to take in the most positive, helpful information.

At the same time, gratitude doesn’t mean that everything is okay. Someone present noted that “be grateful” can be used by powerful people and institutions to keep us in our place.

The intentional practice of gratitude makes us a more generous person to others.

At the end of the session, we were invited to try out the following spiritual practice. You are invited to join with us, and to post your insights and learnings on this blog. You are also invited to join us for a second session on the spiritual practice of gratitude at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church on Sunday, April 21 from 9:15 to 10:15 in the church Library (the best way to get to the Library is through the Chelmsford Avenue entrance).

A spiritual practice for experiencing/practicing gratitude with four components:

Intentional: Ask God for the gift of gratitude

Reflective: Each day take time to recall any experiences of giving or receiving gratitude you had. What happened? How did it feel? Who was involved?

Outward Expression: Keep a journal containing your reflection(s), create art, write a letter, share your experience(s) with the St. Matthew’s faith community and others on our blog.

Repeatable: Be intentional every day, journal at least once a week.

What happened and what did you learn as you intentionally practiced gratitude? Please share!

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3 Responses to The Spiritual Practice of Gratitude

  1. Jenny Bach says:

    In doing this work it helps me to slow down. Gratitude is slow and savory…you need to notice the blessing, then gratitude can be a response. It works to look over your day at the end, but a goal I think might be to live slowly enough to be grateful right in the middle of it all.

  2. Judy Johnson says:

    When savoring gratitude, when spending time considering a gift I received and the giver, my mind pauses to stand in a pool of clear water. I spend so much time in the muck, covered in stress and worry. Pondering in gratitude gives me balance and the chance to dwell in goodness for a few minutes.

  3. Lis says:

    One additional practice that might be of use for families with children (or those of any age!) is a “gratitude jar.” After a family meal, write down one thing you are grateful for that day and put it in the jar. At the end of a week (or month) open the jar and read all the accumulated blessings. Plan a special celebratory dinner or activity to go along with this practice. It is important to share these grateful moments with others.

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