Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Gratitude and Miracles

A recent discussion of Luke 17:11-19, where Jesus heals ten lepers and one returns to thank him, has caused me to consider the connection between gratitude, attentiveness and miracles. In this healing story, the lepers are told to go and show themselves to the priest and as they are on their way, they are healed. I wonder if the healing was gradual, happening as they traveled to be declared clean by the priest.

How often do we notice gradual healing as a miracle, a gift from God? When healing happens over a period of time, do we end up acting like the nine lepers who didn’t return? Do we chalk up our healing to good medicine, good fortune or our own self-care?

Attentiveness gives us the ability to see just how miraculous is life itself, as is the world in which we live. God’s activity in all of it is right out in front for us to see, touch and taste. Each breath is a miracle. Each flower is miraculous. It’s a miracle that the rain that falls is the same rain that fell on Noah, and that flows through aquifers, to be drawn up from water wells by my friends in Guatemala and El Salvador. What we may see as mundane is actually miraculous, and this way of seeing cannot help but make us grateful.

Gratitude is the key that opens us up to love God and others, that unclenches our fists to share what we have with others, to die to self, to give ourselves away. If we are ungrateful, we live with a mentality of scarcity. Gratitude grows when we recognize the abundance of every moment. Gratitude takes our action, our service for God and others, and infuses it with love. Action without gratitude does not honor God.

Every moment of life is shot through with miracles. If you have a hard time seeing them, start by paying attention to your heartbeat, which happens without any effort on your part. Learn to appreciate these small but important miracles that flood our lives with love and light!

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