Too often we only recognize our blessings in comparison to others. We hear this in statements like,
“There, but for the grace of God, go I”
“After visiting Lois in the hospital, and hearing about all her struggles, I don’t think I have any room to complain.”
“Those images from the Philippines! Those poor people, I’m so thankful I’ve never experienced something like that.”
“I am thankful for a warm bed, knowing that so many live on the streets.”
Empathy for the struggles and challenges of others is not a bad thing. Empathy is recognition that we are one human family. But our thankfulness that follows it is not gratitude. It is a kind of selfish relief. This relief is understandable for we are hardwired for self-preservation.
Thankfulness which emanates from the bad luck and difficulties of others, is an act of finding ourselves somehow better or at least better off than others. Gratitude is something entirely different.
Gratitude is seeing the Divine within the mundane, within our own struggles, and, yes, even within good things that happen to us. Gratitude is finding not so much the positive, though maybe that, but the good, the God, within all things. Created in the image of the One, we too can take the chaos, the raw materials of hardship, disappointment, illnesses, catastrophes, joys, and all the other events and emotions of our lives and co-create something with God and our human kindred that moves humanity closer to the time when we are all one.
Holy One: open our eyes that we may sense you in every moment. Amen.