I don’t really know how it happens. I am sure we could blame consumerism, capitalism, or competition. Maybe we could even blame sin. But somehow, in the midst of our abundance, we find ways to be dissatisfied. We want more – more stuff, more security, more freedom. There is something deep inside of us that sees what others have and covets. Our maybe it is more subtle and quiet. We look at our current situation, and think, “If I just had that, I would be happy.” And whatever “that” is, it does not seem like too much to ask in our minds.
The other day, my family and I were driving in the city. We turned the corner, and right before us loomed an enormous billboard. But instead of trying to sell something (or convince me that I needed “that”), it simply said, “Gratitude.” I was stunned. I do not know who put up the sign or why, but what I can tell you is that it stopped me in my tracks. Whether I am bustling around with my family or busy at work, I am rarely meditating on gratitude. I am just not very good at holding gratitude at the center of everything. For me, that sign was a beckoning back: a beckoning back to a spirit of gratitude. So instead of having my mind on wherever we were going that day, suddenly, I looked around the car. There was my beautiful, loving, precious family. We were sitting in a car that works, enjoying leisure time. I was not sick or worried about my housing security. A wave of gratitude swept through that car that left me stunned.
This week St. Margaret’s kicked off our Stewardship season. Most of us think about Stewardship season, and we immediately start worrying about what we are going to be able to pledge this year. But before you start crunching numbers, I invite you to take a moment to be stunned by the prayerful practice of gratitude. Start at home. Prayerfully consider your friends and community. Think about St. Margaret’s and why you pull yourself out of bed every Sunday to be there. Give thanks for the God that creates us, sustains us, and gives us all that we need. The further out we move from ourselves, the bigger our gratitude gets. By the time we get to God, that unfathomable One who is infinitely bigger and more gracious than we can imagine, our longings for anything else disappear. All we are left with is humble sense of gratitude.
This week, I invite you to meditate not on your checkbook, but on this blessed life God has given you. If you have to start with something as basic as being able to breathe – being on this side of the ground, then start there. I imagine no matter how rough or dissatisfying life may feel, you will slowly begin to realize the enormity of abundance surrounding you. Let that wave of gratitude sweep you into a stunned silence – and join our God who waits there for you.