Yesterday on the radio, between fits of pointless chatter, I actually managed to gather a story of substance. Evidently, scholars have found that at the beginning of all marriages, gratitude towards spouses is at it’s all time high. Phrases like “thank you” and “I appreciate you” fall on open ears. However, years into marriage, “hand me the remote” and “where’s my dinner” reverberate through empty space. My saddened sentiments were flooded by the thought, that like anything else, gratitude must not always be a rush of emotional thankfulness (as is common for newlyweds), but also an intentional part of our life. Gratitude is cultivated, and like any crop there is diligence and focus associated. But the yield, if sown correctly, produces a harvest that is rich.
Cicero was a smart man, as his quote reveals. Gratitude must be the predecessor for all other virtues in order for those virtues to be true to their intended character. Love without gratitude, is really not love at all- only a colder and darker shadow. How can peace reside in my heart, if I lack a thankful spirit? Peace is gratitude, and gratitude is contentment, and contentment is peace. Full circle….thank you gratitude. So hailing back to my 4th grad science project lingo, my conclusion (represented on this awesome flanel board) suggests that gratitude must reign in our hearts. Well then, what does that look like? i’m not Cicero but here is what i’m learning….
Kevin, my husband, is probably king at having a thankful spirit. He’s contagious. And he’s also intentional about shedding this business on me. The beauty of this art is that it has become such a daily part of his life to encourage me through his verbal gratitude. I don’t deserve it, but i’m becoming better because of it, and most importantly i’m becoming a more thankful person. Case in point…
Night time ritual: Every night, before we go to sleep we exchange gratitude. He shares with me his favorite thing about me that day, and then likewise I share with him my favorite thing about him that day. Eyes to eyes, nose to nose, big hand holding little hand, we love each other deeply by calling out thanksgivings in one another. The ancient art of Namaste at work “the spirit in me, honors the spirit in you”. Sleep prevails because I am known and loved by a man who honors the small things I do each day to the fullest degree. Gratitude at physical rest.
Notes: On unexpected mornings, mirrors bring smiles from my lover. Taped to our bathroom mirror, I find crooked words penned to bring me joy. This gesture, while small and on scrap paper, reminds me that HE thought of me. That he intentionally took the time to call gratitude into being. What if we all just started leaving scraps of thankfulness around? Judging from the time it takes to write a few words on abandoned paper, and the expression it can fill, I say why would we not?
The Fridge: While notes and kinds words are direct forms to applying gratitude upon my soul, the fridge incident took me completely by surprise. And I mean like double-take, goofy grin kind of surprise. One Sunday I happened to speak at a very large church, and an announcement was made in the church bulletin. When I got home later, my thirst needed quenching so I set forth towards the fridge for some H20. And there, cut out of the church bulletin, was the square inch announcement marked with my name. Days later, another “katie” paper mysteriously appeared on our fridge secured by a pretty floral magnet. Only two of us live at our house, and the culprit wasn’t me. Indirect gratitude made it’s mark on our kitchen that day.
And you know what else these carefully crafted gifts of gratitude did to my soul? They brought me to a deeper and fuller understanding of our God. If I feel close to Kevin because we cultivate a sense of thanksgiving for one another, doesn’t that anticipate that our heavenly father delights in sharing our gratitude-fest? Tonight as I was meditating on these truths, I began to tell God what I was thankful for about Him today. And as I began, I almost couldn’t stop myself. Smile wide, heart content, peace pumping in my veins…it felt good to thank the lover of my soul for being the ultimate lover of my soul. And of course, I thanked him for Mr. Tall Dark and Handsome:)
Here’s to showing and expressing gratitude in all ways to all people, laying the foundations for all other virtues to be perfected:)