Gratitude

Here at our monastery different ones of us take turns giving regular tours of our church to anyone who wishes to see it. In the winter months visitors are less frequent, and so on my one day a week of tour duty, I often have a few extra minutes to browse the bookstore for new authors. Last week I picked up a beautifully covered book by Ann Voskamp, not an unknown name, but one I haven’t read. Feeling a bit depressed that day, the sub-title “Reflections on finding everyday graces” caught my attention as something I’d like to find today!

Recently I’ve started the habit of starting and ending each day with things for which I’m grateful. I jot down 10 things I was grateful for from the day, especially on days I feel down. In Voskamp’s first reflection, Surprising Grace, she writes, “To bring the sacrifice of thanksgiving means to sacrifice our understanding of what is beneficial and thank God for everything because He is benevolent. A sacrifice of thanks lays down our perspective and raises hands in praise anyways—always.”

Laying down my perspective is the challenge for me-always. I know God to be only good, but some days, like this particular day, when something I really want doesn’t happen, I don’t want to remain grateful to God. I’d rather blame him, be angry at him and cry out why aren’t things different? Why can’t my perspective work? Laying down and giving thanks-always, doesn’t naturally come to practice. But in His grace he always answers us and is always patient with us.

Voskamp sums it up more eloquently, “We give thanks to God not because of how we feel but because of who He is.” Amen to that—and thank God for his never changing nature which always only has our truest and best intentions in mind.

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About Melodius Monk

I'm 30 years old, and I grew up at the Community of Jesus. My parents moved from Ohio to live at the Community two years before I was born, so with the exception of a few years at college, I’ve lived in the Community my whole life. I became a Novice Brother in 2003, and made my profession as a brother in 2005. Currently I have a pretty varied life as a brother. In addition to daily responsibilities in our liturgies, I cook, sing, play trumpet, and am responsible for various cleaning and maintenance needs in the church building (my favorite jobs is changing the light bulbs at 45 feet!) I also arrange transportation for brothers to various appointments, work on repairing musical instruments, clean the barn, give tours of the church, make the weekly food menu for the Friary, and help out with various other needs as they arise around the Community. Growing up, I was not particularly interested in the religious life, but I met Jesus at an inter-varsity fellowship meeting my second year in college, and that re-directed my life drastically. I feel very fortunate to have found my life’s calling, and the hope for more wholeness is what keeps me on my monastic journey on difficult days.

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