Lenten Devotion - day 3
I am glad that we are on this journey of Lent together, seeking to draw closer to the Divine Reality. It takes courage and intentionality to set aside time in our lives and connect with the Divine, and I believe that your efforts will bear much fruit.
In my previous letters, I talked about the importance of forgiveness and letting go as a way of opening ourselves up to God's love and grace. Today, I want to share with you another theme that I believe can be helpful for your Lenten journey: gratitude.
Gratitude is the practice of recognizing and appreciating the blessings and gifts in our lives, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem. Gratitude helps us to cultivate a sense of joy and abundance, even in the midst of difficulty, challenge, or distress. It is so powerful as a tool in growing closer to God that Meister Eckhart once claimed, “If the only prayer you ever uttered was ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.” I think the old mystic said that because knew that gratitude allows us to see how God is present and active in our lives.
In Hinduism, there is a concept called "bhakti," which refers to the devotion and love that one has for the Divine. One way that bhakti is expressed is through "kirtan," which is the singing of devotional songs and chants. In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna says, "Whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you offer or give away, and whatever austerities you perform—do that as an offering to me" (9:27). This passage emphasizes the idea that everything we have and everything we do is a gift from God, and that we should offer it back to God with gratitude and love. Jesus would agree I am sure!
Psalm 100 calls on all of creation to give thanks and praise to God for God’s goodness and faithfulness. The psalmist reminds us that God is the one who made us and cares for us, and that we are invited to enter into God’s presence with thanksgiving and praise. Just don’t forget that God is everywhere, so you can give thanksgiving always.
Lent is a perfect time to cultivate gratitude in our lives, since very often, a lack of gratitude makes life less meaningful anyway. You could start by taking time each day to reflect on the blessings and gifts that God has given you. Write down three things that you are thankful for and offer them up to God in prayer. You could also express your gratitude to others, letting them know how much you appreciate their presence and support in your life. I’ve even heard about studies that claim when we think about what we are grateful for we feel better about life.
Gratitude will open your heart to the reality of God’s abundance of love and grace in your life, and you will be reminded of the infinite number of ways that God is present and active in your living. Gratitude can help shift your focus from what you lack and what is difficult, to what you have been given. That alone can bring a sense of love and peace to your heart.
However, I also encourage you to be grateful for what you don’t have, and for what is difficult. This is hard, but Lent is the journey to the cross after all. Life is very often hard, and when we can thank God for the difficulties of life, then we can truly begin to see God everywhere.
I hope the practice of gratitude is helpful for your Lenten journey, and for your journey of life. Keep growing! Never stop! The world is a better place when we are grateful!
Until tomorrow my friend,