In 1985, I almost died. I have asthma thanks to smoking in my youth (3 packs a day!). One night my lungs started closing up. As my wife took me to our family doctor, I noticed my fingers were turning blue. That good doctor saved my life that night.
This was training in gratitude. Ever since that night, I have been grateful for breathing. When I run and my lungs are open and clear, I remember that terrible night and I am grateful.
Alcoholics Anonymous makes much of gratitude, encouraging gratitude lists. And indeed gratitude is a great medicine for self-pity and for resentment. God being who He/She is, however, we don’t always see a gift when it’s coming. As someone once said, God always seems to have another custard pie up His/Her sleeve. And yet some custard pies — business setbacks, relationship disappointments, failures, even tragedies–end up opening unexpected doors.
My spiritual world will never be one of total acceptance. I fight and argue with the God of my understanding every step of the way. But I have also become aware that, when I pause and express gratitude, it calms my spirit.
So celebrate this Thanksgiving by pausing and creating your own gratitude list. Make sure to be thankful for the simple things — all that we tend to take for granted. Like breathing.
Reflections: 1. For what are you grateful? 2. What sad events in your life opened unexpected doors?
Further Reading: David Stendl-Rast Gratefulness: The Heart of Prayer