These summer days offer many things to be grateful for – weather outings and festivals as well as friends and families having some time to be with each other; add a few road trips and maybe your feet in the sand at a beach.
We’re thankful for gardens filled with flowers and good things that end up on the table to eat. Gratitude in summertime is a holy and helpful attitude to practice.
A Duke University researcher says, “If thankfulness were a drug, it would be the world’s best-selling product with its health benefits for every major human organ system.”
Think about it. The most loving persons you know are people who are grateful about life and everything. So often, the most holy people we know are the people who are most thankful even for the little things.
Many times, the most miserable and sad people are those who seem to never show gratitude for much at all, only wanting more rather than giving thanks for what they already have.
When it comes to caring and serving others, if not rooted in an attitude of gratitude, even our care for the other person might become only self-serving. We end up carrying their cross but sending them the bill.
There is so much for which to thank God and our Catholic faith: children having made First Communion, babies baptized and loving couples anointing their marriages before the altar in church. Then there are so many volunteers who take part in parish life and worship, way beyond just being at Mass on the weekend, and so much real work by many to make a parish festival a success admired by the wider community.
But gratitude takes effort and practice; it doesn’t come easy for many people with problems, stress and the hurts they carry.
A tragedy left a family with a void nothing could fill. Their little boy chased a puppy into the street and lost his life when a car raced by.
The boy’s older sister saw the accident and she was encased in sadness and a cold emptiness for years — no joy and no reason to be thankful for much in life.
Later, as a young mother herself, she discovered that in the Bible the words grace and joy come from the Greek word “chairo,” the word for thanksgiving. She then decided to write out her thanks for 1,000 gifts she already had — job, family, changing seasons, etc. And so her new-found joy and gratefulness began to flow freely.
Driving around we all have read bumper stickers on the back of cars or trucks; some are cleaver … some can’t be repeated here.
But I saw a wonderful bumper sticker that challenged my own attitude of gratitude. It simply said in bold letters, “Too blessed to complain.”