Sanctifying Gratitude

Thanksgiving isn't so much about turkey as it is celebrating some things we often take for granted: family, traditions, and food.

Thanksgiving isn’t so much about turkey as it is celebrating some things we often take for granted: family, traditions, and food.

I continue to grow in my appreciation of the central place of gratitude in spiritual health. Gratitude is a mysteriously powerful spiritual practice. I’ve learned a lot about practicing gratitude through the Jesuits.

St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, developed an extremely simple meditative prayer to be done daily: the examen of conscience. In the first part of this meditation the participant scans through his or her day recalling events, moments, interactions, etc. for which he or she is thankful. In doing this, as Anthony de Mello points out, we “sanctify whatever we are grateful for.”

This year, with the majority of my time spent indoors studying, I find myself ever more grateful for opportunities to spend time outdoors. With that, I have grown in my deep appreciation for our government’s wisdom in setting aside and preserving huge expanses of wilderness for the people to explore and enjoy. I know that much of the protected state and federal land open to the public today has come about through a long line of people who have waded through bureaucracy and politics. I am thankful for them and all their work done indoors so you and I can enjoy the outdoors.

As you consider what you are thankful for this year, remember:

You sanctify whatever you are grateful for.

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