Tuesday, April 5, 2016

I can learn to act thankful

“The answer lies in understanding that it is these things - and these things alone, here and now, at this moment – that truly constitute the will of God. The challenge lies in learning to accept this truth and act upon it, every moment of every day. The trouble is that like all great truths it seems too simple. It is there before our noses all the time, while we look elsewhere for subtle answers. It bears the hallmark of all divine truths, simplicity, and yet it is precisely because it seems so simple that we are prone to overlook it or ignore it in our daily lives.”


 J. Ciszek, S.J., He Leadeth Me 
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"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"

"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."

"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.

"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."

"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand.

~ Margery WilliamsThe Velveteen Rabbit

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Pondering and writing about gratefulness is not a new topic for me.

In fact, I’ve written a number of posts on various aspects of it—including a discussion on the Spanish and English variations of the word, and the meaning in each language.  Also see two more, here and here.

I’ve already also mentioned how deeply moved I was by Father Richard Vera’s reflection and prayer published in Magnificat for Holy Thursday:
“Let us face the reality of our lives with the certainty that all reality and all of our lives belong to you. Let the Real Presence of the Eucharist be the beginning of our welcoming your real presence in all of reality.” 
And I know, at least at one level, that in order to welcome the Father’s presence—and to notice it—in the reality of my life I must be and live gratefulness. It is all intrinsically connected to my being thank-FULL for the goodness and the blessings already in my life, as it is.

What I am struck by today is the reality that living this gratefulness is as much a decision as choosing to love. 

Let me back up.

In the midst of all the goodness and blessings in my life, I am often blown away by the dissatisfaction that I feel. If I am at least somewhat honest with myself, I notice an emotion deep inside me that can only be described as discontentment. 

This, by the way, is immediately and always followed by self-condemnation

How can I possibly NOT feel absolute goodness and joy when I am, for example,  surrounded by my beautiful, loving, growing family?

What kind of believer am I if I don’t wake up every morning proclaiming a song of joy for the beauty and goodness that surrounds me?

What is, exactly, the secret to living a more joyful, fulfilling life? What can I do to allow myself genuinely en-JOY the reality that is my life?

Two things occur to me today.

Life is messy. And chaotic. And heartbreaking, and often lonely. These, too, are part of being real and welcoming God’s real presence in my life. So I have to begin by honestly bringing all of me to the foot of the cross, not only, but especially, those parts of me that are empty, sad, unlikeable, and downright ugly.

Secondly, with the help and love of God, I can learn to act thankful, which will lead me to truly being thank-FULL. And somewhere in there is the road to living with JOY.

I know, I know. It sounds so simple.

This is the simple beginning. More later.

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