“No duty is more urgent than that of returning thanks.” —St. Ambrose
She: I hate my job.
He: Yes, but at least you’ve got a job! And it pays well.
She: Yeah, but with gas prices going up, I need a good salary.
He: Do you own your own car?
She: Yeah, but the bike rack on it is broken, so I want a newer model. You should see my neighbor’s new car. I want to bike in Yellowstone, but we can’t take the bikes with us.
He: Do you have paid vacation time?
She: Yeah, but I’ve been wishing that I could go somewhere really exotic.
He: What kinds of bikes do you have?
She: We upgraded last year to the best model that our favorite manufacturer has to offer. Some people might think $10K was a bit much to spend on a bike, but with the health benefits of daily exercise, it seemed worth it.
He: Hmmm. Interesting. I’d love to stay here and chat, but I’ve got to get to work.
The Following Monday
He: You sure look happy today.
She: Yes! I am so grateful to have a job! I met an unemployed woman last week, and my heart went out to her. She was so sweet, and her eyes were incredible.
He: Where did you meet her? Was she asking for money?
She: At the gas station. Yes, she wanted money, but she offered to wash my windows for it. She had a quiet dignity despite her situation. She needed a shower, and I thought how lucky I am to own a home with hot running water.
He: Yeah, but get back to the woman. What happened next? It must’ve been something for you to be so joyful today.
She: Yes, but it wasn’t just her. I was reading last night a quote from St. Teresa of Ávila, who said something about service being such a sweet way of gaining freedom that she found an inner joy* when she pushed through temptations to self-indulgence. And I realized that meeting that woman for me was an encounter with Christ. I haven’t felt this peaceful in a long time.
He: Yeah, but why do you connect it with Christ?
She: The genuine peace. The idea that came from somewhere that I really don’t need a new car, and I’d rather donate that money to the homeless shelter this woman was telling me about. I visited it over the weekend. They do great work.
She: Yeah, wow. But the bottom line is I truly feel grateful to be in a position to help. I think I want to cultivate an attitude of gratitude because I have so much.
He: Yeah, but what about Yellowstone?
She: Yes, I’d love to go to Yellowstone, but I’ve been to such a beautiful place: that homeless shelter. Feeling peace there was heavenly. Peace from God surpasses anything this earth has to offer. It makes me think of the line, “For a day in your courts is better / than a thousand elsewhere.” (Psalm 84:10)
* “Sometimes, when I was spending time in sweeping floors which I had previously spent on my own indulgence and adornment, and realized that I was now free from all those things, there came to me a new joy, which amazed me, for I could not understand whence it arose.” (The Life of Teresa of Jesus: The Autobiography of Teresa of Ávila)