Saturday, August 04, 2007


Gratitude and Direction

I awoke this morning with a thought about gratitude. Well, actually a cluster of thoughts at whose center gratitude hovered.

We're taught, as Christians, to be thankful. I suppose this works for those who are glad to be alive but I, who never expected to live this long, am not all that glad. The impulse to remain alive is far stronger than I expected and, given that, I am glad that God chose to pick me up. If one has to live, it might as well be with God. The alternative is much, much worse: all the same pain with none of the offsetting pleasure.

Still, I found myself wondering if I said "Thank you" to God simply as a verbal talisman, a charm to assure His continued positive regard. The truth is that I really don't look forward to anything. Why be thankful?

Yet there is a thread of new optimism growing in me. I don't understand it. Rather than always assuming the roof is about to fall in, I'm more likely to look beyond the collapse. Things do fall apart. They can be rebuilt, God says. They will be rebuilt. All things will be made new. I doubt that having this happen depends in any way upon how much gratitude I express to God. Still... I guess I'm superstitious in some ways.

Or maybe it's just the social lubricant idea. The "Thank you " to the bus driver or the waiter might not really mean much, but it's better than nothing, and far better than a snarl.

I just don't know. Where is the meaning in life? I sat at the top of Inspiration Point this morning, looking at the mist-veiled dry hills, wondering what I wanted. I've pretty well abdicated this particular responsibility, which might have something to do with the fact that I live in a city I don't like, that constantly reminds me with noise and rudeness how much I don't like it. Where am I to go from here? Not only do I not know that, I don't even know how to find out. I never expected to need to know.

Maybe I still don't need to know. God is a good guide. Maybe that simple fact is what I'm grateful for. Not that his guiding is easy. It's a difficult walk, finding out who I am, but perhaps it will eventually pay off.

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