“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)
Seeking what we lack sometimes forces us to acknowledge the obvious – we lack nothing if we have health, love, family, friends, faith and GOD. Thank you for the beautiful reflection. Happy Thanksgiving.
Nice. Thought provoking. Thanks Loretta. Being grateful is a virtue in itself.
I feel humbled by all the gratitude being expressed. You all have made my day. And week! Another big thank you to you and every reader who took the time to ponder and give thanks.
Thanks for your wonderful piece on gratitude which is perhaps the greatest virtue available to us. Also thank you to your earlier commenter Rosie for sharing her journey, that really made my day.
Than you for this. I am really struggling with gratitude right now due to mental health and physical health and feeling so alone. No family but good friends. My head knows God is there but feeling believing it are hard. You’ve reminded me to look out for this to be grateful for. I can afford therapy. I have a wonderful spiritual director and a lovely cat. We have nhs here and I have enough for basic needs. And your posts and these Jesuit sites are wonderful. So I do thank God and the many ‘angels unaware’ in my life and I thank God for your wisdom and post today
This is powerful and true, great reminder for my day. Thank you!