Lent 2020: Gratitude 

Lent is the season that leads us to Easter. This six-week, 40-day (you’re right, the math doesn’t work, Sundays don’t count) journey is often practiced as an “inward” journey that leads us towards “outward” transformation. It is a time when we are reminded to examine our lives in a deeply spiritual way, to make a little extra room for God, and to turn away from (repent) those things that separate us from God and each other.

This year, inspired by Diana Butler Bass’ book Grateful: The Subversive Practice of Giving Thanks, we as a church will be practicing and studying gratitude together. You are invited to join us at 9:30 on Sundays for an adult practice group (while kids are in Sunday School), and at 10:30 for worship.

Resources for Practicing Gratitude

We are all probably familiar with ideas like keeping a gratitude journal, counting your blessings (instead of sheep) before bed, or having each family member share something they are thankful for before dinner. These are all great practices, and, we wanted to share some that perhaps are less familiar for you. We hope you find something new through this season – and are willing to come share on Sundays!
1. Diana Butler Bass built a 7-Day Guide to Gratitude to accompany her book. This week-long practice is meant to be done in the morning. You will begin each day with a quote from the book, three actions, and a prayer.
2. “Minding the Day.” A practice Diana uses in her own daily life, the point is to start each day remembering that life is a gift and we are interdependent with sacred realities, natural forces, and human relationships even as we wake. In her book, Diana reminds us that in a very real way, morning gratitude is a primary form of mindfulness, a practice of paying attention to abundance and life. To help her “Mind the Day,” Diana has a list of morning prayers of gratitude, so that the first words to cross her lips are words of thanks each day. Here’s one place to look to begin assembling your own collection of prayers: Weekly Prayers by John Philip Newell
3. Prayer Beads. For some of us, a physical reminder to pray, or a physical object to help us focus as we pray is helpful. For centuries, people of many faiths have used prayer beads. You can find a handy online introduction here. How you use the prayer beads can be adapted in many ways. Ask Pastor Nico how he is praying with them this Lent!
4. The Examen. A centuries old practice of examining your day and praying through it. 
5. In her book Radical Gratitude, Mary Jo Leddy proposes ten “habits of being that can help us live with spirit in a dispirited time and place.” Don’t feel you need to do all ten things. Start with what inspires you and move towards what calls you. 
  1. Begin before you are ready. “Beginning steps in gratitude so not have to be great or grand. They need only to be real.”
  2. Practice gratitude in prayers, reflections, chants, and meditations.
  3. Gather with “like-spirited” people. Find or start a group committed to practicing gratefulness as a way of life.
  4. Live more simply. Let go of material things that burden you.
  5. Look for examples of grateful people in your life and from history learn from them.
  6. Think with your heart. Trust your feelings of gratefulness and your longings for a better way of life.
  7. See differently. Develop “soft eyes.”
  8. Be connected to a longer wisdom tradition, one that helps you understand the spiritual insights of the past.
  9. Find a beloved community, a neighborhood, a town, a place of worship, and be part of it, really part of it.
  10. “Contemplate the face of the world.” Gratitude empowers us to stare at reality and overcome what is challenging, violent, and evil.

 Your Turn!

What are things that YOU do that help you give thanks in your life? Come share them with us!