Franciscan Moments @ Saint Miriam: July 17, 2017


So, I am away. I am at the shore and watching the waves. The sun is hiding a bit behind the clouds today, but the weather is warm and the wind mild; a beautiful day to be alone on a beach. I am grateful.

I am grateful, not for just that which I have, but also that which I lost or was never given despite my pleadings. I realized that we say that a lot as human beings, “I am grateful.” but I wonder if we actually mean it, deep down, where gratefulness originates in the soul given us by a God who is always love, always giving, always loving? I wonder if we see that we should be grateful for things never realized, too? I wondered, as I gazed at the massiveness of the ocean this morning, if I give enough thanks for all the wonderful things in this life that come to me daily at no cost, save paying attention? I mean, normally when I turn to God, it is because I am broken, or in need, or in want, but today, I am just being grateful.

Surely gratitude has more depth than the surface words we use — the ‘please’ and ‘thank yous’ that seem so incidental, our polite acknowledgement, even if unconsciously processed, of our interdependence on each other. This reminds me of the story about Jesus that describes the time he healed ten lepers in Luke’s Gospel. He tells them to go and bathe in the river. Ten of them go and are healed, but only one of them returns and thanks him for being healed. Why did nine of the lepers healed not bother to return and thank Jesus for the miracle of their healing? Were they not grateful? Did they not recognize the healing that had just come so freely to them?

I have been grateful for a lot in my life, but I have more often felt gratitude when enmeshed in the most difficult of circumstances; for those hard lessons that I needed to experience to make me a better person. They needn’t all be on a beach or in the sun; but they all did need to be with the Son. Of course, we suffer, as human beings. And there is no reason to be grateful for evil or when in pain, and we may not see it as a gift, but we should note that eventually it transforms us. It gives us new empathy, and the sunsets and the sunrises take on a new essence of beauty, and our gratefulness a new depth of gratitude.

Life is a good gift.  We need to pause and remember that, even if it is only while sitting on a beach and seeing God anew. St. Francis once said that “Men lose all the material things they leave behind them in this world, but they carry with them the reward of their charity and the alms they give. For these, they will receive from the Lord the reward and recompense they deserve.”

I am grateful today for all the things I don’t have, all the things I was denied, all the ways I hurt, all the anger, the betrayals, the brokenness, the sicknesses, the losses, the stupidity in my judgements, the pains, the misunderstandings that allow me to see the beauty of God and what truly matters today.

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