It’s one of the most important prayers–and one of spiritual writer Anne Lamott’s all-time favorites:
First, I get too busy, too preoccupied with life the way we so often get, and by the time I get away from the rush of things and finally find the time and space to do so, I’m too exhausted or too sleepy. Perhaps I manage to mutter a generic thanks for the day, but can barely mean it.
Second, I forget. I receive a blessing–something good happens, a surprise even–but other events transpire and that blessing I’m grateful for ends up buried, forgotten underneath a pile of other concerns. I suffer from “presentism”–the tendency to regard the recent as most important, neglecting and forgetting what is less recent even if these are, in fact, more important.
Third, I’m not paying enough attention. I don’t notice God’s gifts. He gives them, and I get them, but I don’t recognize them–until much later, if at all, in some quiet retreat. I don’t keep my eyes wide open enough, and I go through my day walking past burning bushes one after another, but blissfully unaware that I’m just passing them by.
Finally, things are going too well, and I take it for granted that I’m entitled to all the good things I’m experiencing. I forget that every single good gift is just that–a gift totally undeserved, freely given. It’s funny how it’s when I am most in want that I seem to be most capable of gratitude. Those difficult days when the only thing keeping me together is some band aid and duct tape, I don’t take anything for granted: I am grateful for every single grace I receive that helps me make it through the day.
So what are some of the lessons I can learn from all this? What’s the Gospel message for me? I think two things:
I will lower my threshold for astonishment. I will keep my eyes wide open for every single gift, every minor blessing, and each time I will allow myself to be astonished by such a gift, such a blessing.
I will not wait for my evening prayers to be grateful. I will stop in my tracks each and every single time and cry out, “Thankyouthankyouthankyou!” Right here and right now.