The Crumpled Ribbon and a Moment of Grace

A sweaty little kindergartener came running towards me from the playground one afternoon. When he got close, I noticed he had something crumpled tightly in his hand. He reached out his hand to show me his prize as the words tumbled out of him in one long, continuous breath: “Mommy, a friend spilled her water, and I helped her, and I got to pick this ribbon, and I picked the rainbow one.” As he exhaled, […]

Ignatian Gratitude: Encounter and Response

With rapt attention, I watched the rescue of the boys’ soccer team in Thailand. The boys were stranded by rising waters in a cave. People from all over the world came together in treacherous conditions to pull the boys back from the brink of death into the light of day. When all of the boys finally emerged safely, it seemed the whole world breathed a sigh of relief. Joyful prayers of gratitude arose from around […]

On Gratitude

Driving home recently, I couldn’t help but notice that God seemed intent on slowing me down—behind a bus first, then a delivery truck; then a traffic light turned red just as I approached. Far from a waste of time, delays like this signal that God is trying to get my attention. I smile interiorly, grateful for the chance to ponder God’s presence in the brief moments of stillness the detainment affords. Every tree and flower, […]

Savoring the Gifts Like Chocolate Eggs

When we were children, my brother and I used to eagerly await awakening to Easter baskets full of candy, which we soon devoured. As an adult, I have mostly lost my sweet tooth, but I still like the occasional small piece of chocolate. It is a treat to unwrap slowly just one foil-wrapped chocolate egg, savor its taste and texture, and let that be enough. This Easter, I have been praying about all the good […]

Gratitude and Solidarity

Last week I was in the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) to learn about the damage wrought by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. These two category 5 storms devastated the islands, leaving them entirely denuded of foliage and causing massive structural damage to buildings and infrastructure. Yet in light of the disasters that affected Texas, Puerto Rico, California, and Mexico—to name only those in our hemisphere—many have forgotten the USVI, and some are feeling abandoned. I was […]

The Gratitude List

A friend of mine was stuck in traffic in New York City late on a summer Friday afternoon. He was really stuck—sitting in his car on a narrow east-west cross street in Manhattan, going nowhere. He grew impatient, then angry. After a while, he started to think about how pitiful his life was. His friends were smarter, wealthier, happier than he was. He hadn’t accomplished anything significant. He was stuck in life, just as he was stuck in traffic. […]

Grateful for Anything—Except Dirty Looks

Driving home from work, I regularly see panhandlers standing at the freeway off-ramp. I hesitate to find Christ in them or give them money. For one thing, it’s a dangerous place to stand. I’m suspicious about how my money will be spent. It could be a scam. Plus I do plenty of other charitable works. Most days it’s someone different. But there’s one “regular,” a young man with varying cardboard signs. Guilt used to fill […]

How to Beat the Fear of Failure

Choose to do what you consider important to do. Do that important thing, and keep doing it. Don’t give up on what is important. Look at the gifts you have been given—name them. Accept those gifts and practice gratitude for them. Learn to cherish the life you are given. Believe what is good and kind and truthful and lovely. Find ways to pass along whatever is good and kind and truthful and lovely. Dare to […]

Grateful for Community

Last week, I spoke with a women’s group that meets in a church basement not far from where I live. I enjoy this group—they represent various ages and ethnicities. They’re good listeners. And they love to laugh. I spoke on times when feeling truly thankful to God for blessings received is a challenge. I knew that a few of these women, gathered on folding chairs in this brightly-lit basement on a Tuesday morning, were not […]

A Week of Gratitude: Grateful for Less

Editor’s note: This week we celebrate a pre-Thanksgiving Week of Gratitude, with Loyola Press authors sharing reflections on gratitude each day. I’m grateful for less, however little of less I’ve achieved. After years of contemplative prayer, I can’t tell if I’ve made any “progress.” I notice, however, that I’m saying a bit less these days, especially when I’m tempted to impress someone with a witty remark, light teasing, or something else that might be seen […]

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