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“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.”

William Arthur Ward

So my dear church family where are we on this matter? Choosing Gratitude as the theme for this month is easy and yet it often seems that expressing gratitude is difficult.  I’m hoping that life has made the possibility of experiencing this extraordinary feeling part of your paradigm for healthy living?  If yes, then we will experience and share how it impacts our lives together.  If not, then the theme for the month is appropriate.   

Did you learn that gratitude is one of the human activities that are essential for your life? I hope so, because then you already have a leg up. If you’re already motivated and willing to put in the effort and commitment it takes to be grateful, I’m applauding you.  If by chance you haven’t realized that gratitude is vitally important, as of yet, I’m recommending it to you as an offering for better living.  How exactly you accomplish this is up to you; what’s needed is to find at least one activity from a world of possibilities and to put gratitude into action.

One of the things I learned long ago in seminary was to keep a gratitude journal.  If you enjoy writing, if you are good at it, or it feels natural to you, then it is a promising way to practice daily.

Maybe you’re an artist and it’s in the creation of your art that you find the expression of this feeling?

Or maybe still you’re a deep thinker and you stop in the midst of your busy days to ponder, to bask in, or simply to relish the joys in your life.  Who made a difference?  Was it the bead maker? Did the auto mechanic rush the service so you could get to work on time?  Maybe the girl next door brought in your paper?  What I’ve experienced in life, is a straight line running from the 1960s to now, of the world, people, nature, family, friends, strangers offering me a kindness just because.  Wow am I grateful!

The problem at times isn’t how kind or how good life has been.  The issue more often has been my not taking note of it.  Is this you too?

My journal once stopped, has become alive again.  I’ve found my voice, my groove and in it I can see the many blessings more clearly.  This month I’m going to express my gratitude to you and to my family and to the many friends, and colleagues that cross my path and smile, give a hand, or provide meaning to my life in some way.

A person I know shared a letter they read in a book.  This note sums up a lot - it was sent to a high school English teacher, more than thirty years after being in class.

The main thing I want to tell you is that you were, without question, the most influential teacher I encountered in High School, and that I am extremely grateful for the interest you took in me.  You seemed to think I had something on the ball, and trust me on this, that was a minority opinion among the school faculty.  Your estimation of my abilities, inflated as it may have been, translated into a certain degree of self-confidence that served me well, I think, in the years that followed.

Perhaps more importantly, you treated me – a pretty unsophisticated 17-18 year old – as an adult, and there is nothing on earth more empowering, to a teenager, than that.  Even allowing for the fact that the 1970s were very different times than these, I sometimes find myself thinking “What was she thinking?”

This in some way reveals just how powerful it is to express your gratitude directly to a person in your life.  Let me say thank you for allowing me into your lives, for sharing this ministry with me. It is a joy to be here and my dear friends I am grateful!

Have a wonderful season filled with gratitude, compassion and love.

In faith,

Rev. Gordon Clay Bailey

References (1)

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  • Response
    Response: see here
    - Conversation with Rev Gordon - Unitarian Universalist Church of the Verdugo Hills, La Crescenta, CA

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