Gratitude therefore, takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise of the goodness of God. For the grateful man knows that God is good, not by hearsay, by experience. And that is what makes all the difference.
From “Thoughts in Solitude” by Thomas Merton
I know that I planned to reflect on the Sayings of the Desert Fathers, but I was re-reading parts of Thomas Merton’s “Thoughts in Solitude” and my eyes were opened by his words on gratitude.
I do not live a life of gratitude. By that I do not mean that I do not say thank you and am not appreciative. I mean that I do not live in a state, in a mindset, in a spiritual and emotional condition of gratitude. I tend to think of things that are wrong – that which is wrong with my work, that which is wrong with my church, that which is wrong with the world. I do not live each day with the understanding that every dawn, every night every breath is a gift of the love of God.
Gratitude, Merton writes, is the knowledge of God, not knowledge in an intellectual sense, but knowledge in a spiritual and relational sense. It is the love of God and the acknowledgement that God is love. It is not keeping a list of good things in our life and giving thanks for them in some perfunctory prayer. It is to live every day recognizing the love of God in everything.
Our knowledge of God is perfected by gratitude: we are thankful and rejoice in the experience of the truth that He is love.
Mostly I live a life of indifference, which according to Merton is the equivalent of hate. There is no middle ground, he writes, between love and hate and gratitude and ingratitude. My indifference to God and his love means I do not know God and I live in hate. I take things for granted, I almost never wake to a new world of wonder, nothing is ever new, nothing is ever fresh.
This post is not about being down on myself, but about awakening to the new reality of existence in the love of God, which Merton says, is perfected by gratitude.
Peace be with y’all