Sunday, May 20, 2007


One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him -- and he was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, 'Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no-one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?'

Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases; he redeems my life from the pit and crowns me with love and compassion. He satisfies my desires with good things, so that my youth is renewed like the eagle's.

I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever.

It is good to praise the Lord and make music to your name, O Most High, to proclaim your love in the morn ing and your faithfulness at night...

Always giving thanks to God the Father for every thing, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honour and glory and praise!

(Luke 17: 15-18; Psalm 103: 1-5; Psalm 86: 12; Psalm 92: 1-2; Ephesians 5: 20; Revelation 5:12 -- all NIV)

It is not enough to merely speak about the spiritual life -- we must also live it. Gratefulness is the theme of such a life. Quiet joy and solid peace reward those who truly search with grateful hearts after God.

It's usually easy to be thankful for what others do or say, but deep gratefulness recognises the many gifts that most people take for granted... the surprising colour and profusion of flowers in a suburban garden, with per haps a white-throated honey-eater dining on nectar... the wonder and splendour of a blue sky slashed through with brilliant white clouds... the work of a master painter. Music, poetry and handmade craftwork all evoke admiration and praise. God keeps on showering us with new gifts, giving us endless new occasions to say thanks and offer praise.

When so much of our lives is affected by strife, hatred, violence and war we can still gratefully look beyond all that and see that joy and peace are much closer at hand than we realise. Gratefulness allows us to do that.

Gratefulness sets us free to love wholeheartedly, give thanks and praise, be surprised by the unexpected and to discover fullness of life. Fullness follows gratefulness. And there's no reversing the order.

There was a time when I screamed, 'Good Lord, where are you?' Then you touched my despairing soul with healing, and delivered me from my private little hell. Thus I shout God's praises, and exhort all who know him to do the same.

And my nights of despair resolve into the dawn of new joy.

And you turned my griping into gratitude, my screams of despair into proclamations of joy.

Leslie E Brandt, Psalms Now

In our innermost heart we know that wholeness is more basic, more primordial than alienation, and so we never quite lose an inborn trust that in the end we shall be whole and together.

The German poet Rainer Maria Rilke celebrates both our longing for healing and wholeness and our primordial conviction that God's healing power wells up in our own innermost heart. He finds God in 'the spot that is healing', while we, like children picking on a scar, keep ripping it open with the sharp edges of our thoughts. If only we could quiet all that agitation within and around us, the din that distracts us.

Rilke's answer is thanksgiving.

Oh, if for once all were completely still! If all mere happenstance and chance were silenced, and the laughter next door, too; if all that droning of my senses did not prevent my being wide awake Then, with one thousandfold thought, I would reach your horizon and, for the span of a smile, hold you to give you away to all life as thanksgiving.

David Steindl-Rast, Gratefulness, the Heart of Prayer

On your birthday you get something special in the mail, a gift from a friend. You want to sit right down and write a thankyou note. Or someone brings you flowers. Your eyes light up; you reach out and embrace your friend. The embrace is as much a gift as the flowers. The note or the embrace continue the spiral of joy.

The gesture of thanks moves both the giver and receiver to another level. It expresses a unity; it solidifies a relationship. We start out with a giver, a gift and a receiver, and we arrive at the embrace of thanks. Thanks is expressed and then accepted by the giver. And in the final kiss of gratitude it's impossible to distinguish the giver from the receiver.

Don Postema, Space for God

The heart is the pulsating core of our aliveness in more than merely the physical sense. To say 'I will give you my heart' is to say, 'I will give you my life.' Gratefulness is full aliveness, and that very aliveness is summed up in the symbol of the heart. All of my past history, all of my future possibilities, this heartbeat in the present moment holds all of it together.

David Steindl-Rast, Gratefulness, the Heart of Prayer

It will perhaps be clear by now that the heart, in the ancient sense of the word, is not the discursive intelligence with which we reason, nor the 'feelings' with which we respond to another person, nor yet the superficial emotion we call sentimentality. The heart is something that lies much deeper within us, the innermost core of our being, the root of our existence or, conversely, our summit, what the French mystics call 'the very peak of the soul'.

Andre Louf, Teach Us to Pray

Everything I see, every noise I hear, every dawn that returns, every encounter I achieve, are signs of something or someone who has gone before me and questions me: God.

Carlo Carretto, The Desert in the City

God makes space for ns in the covenant family. We are embraced as children. We belong.

We respond by making space for God, by being open to God in our lives, by living thankfully. Gratitude is an attitude of receptivity. We are there with open hands ready to receive. Gratitude is an expression of appreciation. We are eager to show our gratitude.

Our heart is the personal 'place' of such receptivity and response... The heart is a person, the whole person, the spiritual centre where we are always available to God.

Don Postema, Space for God

I thank you, Lord, with all my heart, you have heard the words of my mouth. Before the angels I will bless you.

I will adore you before your holy temple.

I thank you for your faithfulness and love which excel all we ever knew of you. On the day I called, you answered; you increased the strength of my soul. Though I walk in the midst of affliction you give me life and frustrate my foes. You stretch out your hand and save me, your hand will do all things for me. Your love, O Lord, is eternal...

Psalm 138: 1-3, 7-8 A New Translation

Thank you, Lord, for this moment.

Thank you, Lord, that I am together here with you in the place where my intellect and will and feelings, my mind and body, my past and future come together.

Thank you that you are here in that spot where my life holds together, deep within my heart.

With a grateful and thankful heart, I dare to believe that you are making me whole within myself so that I am able to live intimately with myself, with others, and with God. In the depth of my heart I find that 'God is closer to me than I am to myself.'

Accept I pray this humble offering from my deeply grateful heart.


A Benediction

Go into each moment of this day, remembering you are God's servant. Let gratefulness surprise you often. Allow God's gifts galore to urge you into a fully alive, frequently grateful response so that in the final kiss of gratitude, it's impossible to distinguish the giver from the receiver. Go in his name. Amen.

Rowland Croucher ed., High Mountains Deep Valleys, (Albatross/Lion) chapter 27

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