Years ago, I started keeping a little journal. Every night, just before I close my eyes for sleep, I write a few thoughts in it. After I pause to breathe in God’s presence, I reflect on the day just past in three questions:
- What brought me joy today?
- What felt heavy?
- What would I like to carry forward to tomorrow?
My practice is a variation on the examen, an ancient Ignatian spiritual exercise. What make these practices so powerful is that they are rooted in gratitude. My daily review, that daily remembering of of joy, stands as a permanent invitation to be grateful for the presence of God moving in my life.
To be clear: I have low-joy days just like anyone else. But even then, because of this practice of closing each day with gratitude, I find something to be grateful for. Even if it’s small, even if it’s the fact that the painful experience is over, I can always find something to be thankful for.
2020 turned out to be a much more challenging year than any of us imagined. This pandemic continues to cause disruption, separation, pain, and death. And yet, even in the worst of times—even during strange and lonely holidays—we offer thanks to God. We offer thanks because our hope is not built on fallible human structures, but on God. God who is faithful, loving, and gracious. God who is with us always, through thick and through thin.
The season of Advent begins this Sunday. I invite you to join me in offering gratitude to God during our Sunday worship over the next four weeks. In the intercessions, I’ve made space for you to speak aloud that for which you are grateful. In the days, weeks, and months to come, I invite you to look for joy, to attend to God’s movement in your daily life and work, and to make note of it. Then bring your gratitude to worship and join me and the rest of St. Luke’s in offering it to God.
I hope you have a happy Thanksgiving. Stay safe.