Gratitude
Sarah Ban Breathnach

  

There is a wonderful Hasidic parable about the power of gratitude to change the course of our destiny in a heartbeat, the speed, I imagine, it takes for a "thank you" to reach Heaven's ears.

Once times were tough.  Two men--both poor farmers--were walking down a country lane and met their Rabbi.  "How is it for you?" the Rabbi asked the first man.  "Lousy," he grumbled, bemoaning his lot and lack.  "Terrible, hard, awful.  Not worth getting out of bed for.  Life is lousy."

Now, God was eavesdropping on this conversation.  "Lousy?" the Almighty thought.  "You think your life is lousy now, you ungrateful lout?  I'll show you what lousy is."

Then, the Rabbi turned to the second man.  "And you, my friend?"

"Ah, Rabbi--life is good.  God is so gracious, so generous.  Each morning when I awaken, I'm so grateful for another day, for I know, rain or shine, it will unfold in wonder and blessings too bountiful to count.  Life is so good."

God smiled as the second man's thanksgiving soared upwards until it became one with the harmony of the heavenly hosts.  Then the Almighty roared with delighted laughter.  "Good?  You think your life is good now?  I'll show you what good is!"

Gratitude is the most passionate transformative force in the cosmos.  When we offer thanks to God or to another human being, gratitude gifts us with renewal, reflection, reconnection.

Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life (is it abundant or is it lacking?) and the world (is it friendly or is it hostile?).  Once we accept that abundance and lack are parallel realities and that each day we choose--consciously or unconsciously--which world we will inhabit, a deep inner shift in our reality occurs.  We discover the sacred in the ordinary and we realize that every day is literally a gift.  How we conduct our daily round, how we celebrate it, cherish it, and consecrate it is how we express our thankfulness to the Giver of all good.

Gratitude holds us together even as we're falling apart.  Ironically, gratitude's most powerful mysteries are often revealed when we are struggling in the midst of personal turmoil.  When we stumble in the darkness, rage in anger, hurl faith across the room, abandon all hope.  While we cry ourselves to sleep, gratitude waits patiently to console and reassure us; there is a landscape larger than the one we can see.
   

So that everyone can experience the transformational rewards of being grateful, Ban Breathnach designed a day-by-day journal for counting one's blessing. Years of disciplined gratitude have taught Ban Breathnach that "if you give thanks for five gifts every day, in two months you may not look at your life in the same way as you might now." Also inviting are the inspirational quotes sprinkled throughout, such as Henry Van Dyke's message: "Gratitude is twofold--love coming to visit us and love running out to greet a welcome guest."

  
    

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget
that the highest appreciation is not to utter words,
but to live by them.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy

  


 
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