“No duty is more urgent than that of returning thanks.” ~ Saint Ambrose …
How often do I find the time for returning thanks where thanks is due? It is generally easy for me to be thankful for the little gifts that benefit a current desire or need of mine, like a friend gifting me money. It is much harder, however, to express thankfulness for the many things I have in my possession now, like my mere presence on this Earth, my life, my health, my friends, my ability to think–we are truly blessed each moment we are alive. And it is for this reason Saint Ambrose talks of our gratitude as a duty that is to be regarded as urgent.
When it is raining, do I find it as an annoyance or do I think of the importance it has in nurturing and sustaining life in this world? When I pass by the flowers, shrubs, and trees, do I think about the oxygen they add to the air allowing me to breathe and survive? So much in life is deserving of my thanks, for it enriches my experience here. More importantly, though, is the effort I make to reinforce my relationship with all that I have on this planet.
We know not the length of time we have on this Earth. And if Saint Ambrose is right, and my gratitude is a duty of the utmost importance, then I must be thankful for everything within my realm of being. If I am not, then I am doing this world a disservice, and this world certainly does not deserve that after all that it is done for me.
I can breathe. I can see. I can move. I can feel. I can think. These are truly miraculous gifts, and I must be thankful for them if I am to fulfill my obligations and if I wish to live my life fully.
Offer thankfulness today to whomever, and wherever, is deserving of your thanks.
Questions to consider:
Do you feel a sense of urgency in showing gratitude?
Is it being to hard on ourselves to expect us to be grateful for everything?
When was the last time you thanked the planet for something it gave you? Are thanks to inanimate or abstract objects ever wasted?
For further thought:
“Instead of thanking God for my two strong legs that are able to run and jump and climb, I whined about my “thunder thighs” and “thick” ankles. Instead of rejoicing that I have two capable arms that can lift and carry and balance my body, I complained about the flab that hung beneath them. I have been totally and unbelievably ungrateful for everything. Like a completely spoiled brat, I took my healthy body for granted. I criticized it and despised it. With crystal clarity, I know that I do not deserve the good health that God has mysteriously blessed me with. Not only have I been unappreciative of my body and its amazing working parts, I tortured it by overexercising, and I put my entire health at serious risk by starving myself. What on earth was wrong with me? As I watch these kids with their less-than-perfect bodies, I feel so thoroughly ashamed of myself. I mean, how could I have been so stupid and shallow and self-centered?” ~ Melody Carlson