Fight for the Space to Give Thanks

As I make my way in the working world as a minister for one of the largest and busiest parishes in the Cleveland diocese, I often find myself frantic with the next thing on my to-do list: Confirmation prep, youth night, retreats, the weekly bulletin, website, videos, service events. There is an unending amount of work to be done and relationships to be fostered, and one of the evils of such a fast-paced schedule is that it’s easy never to stop. But St. Ignatius challenges us to pause in our frenzied lives to give thanks to God. Not just by saying thank you in passing but by actually stopping our lives to recall the gifts God has provided us. Ignatius uses beautiful language in the Spiritual Exercises when he talks about this. He writes that we need to take the time to relish and savor the many gifts we are given.

man prayingHow often is it that we forget to savor the tiny aspects of our day that lead us to God? I know that I personally spend hours working through my to-do list, but somehow, “Give thanks to God,” and “Pray the Examen,” easily find a way to be bumped off the list. Somehow or another I convince myself that I don’t have time. However, James Martin, SJ, profoundly writes, that “savoring is an antidote to our increasingly rushed lives.” And without this savoring we become “human doings” instead of “human beings.” Martin’s quote was a serious wake-up call for me, because I often fall into the trap of becoming a human to-do list, missing the opportunities to savor the infinite gifts that God offers me.

This week I had the opportunity to catch up with an old friend, and she saw how overwhelmed I was with work. We spent over an hour talking about life, work, and relationships, and I walked away with a simple theme from our conversation: “Fight for the space to give thanks.”

We must fight for the space to give thanks—to savor God’s gifts. And we fight because it’s so easy not to give thanks.

So today I invite you to join me in fighting to savor all of God’s gifts in our busy days. True gratitude to God brings a deep healing into our lives. It becomes medicine for our frantic souls.

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Jurell Sison is a 20-something Filipino American living in Cleveland, Ohio. He is a teacher, writer, and filmmaker on the quest for the living God. His mission is to share stories and experiences with those who are chasing meaning and purpose in life. Jurell graduated in May 2013 with a Master of Arts in Theology. He served as a graduate assistant for the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at John Carroll University. He enjoys photography, videography, and keeping up with Pope Francis. His favorite activity is sharing a good meal with close family and friends, especially his best friend and wife, Bridget.



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