Before you skip through this set of posts because you think it's going to be another "Be grateful for what you have - lots of people are dying from hunger" reprimand, stop. That's not what this is.
This is about being a woman of gratitude.
And that is very different from simply being thankful for food and the comfort of your home. Don't get me wrong - being thankful for your life, family, and first world comforts is certainly necessary for keeping a grateful heart, but there's a lot more to it. Truly becoming a woman of gratitude is one of the most difficult tasks we face, yet I believe it is also the most important.
Becoming a woman of gratitude is really about cultivation, a word rich with meaning and imagery. We become more fully ourselves, more fully feminine, when we cultivate a heart of gratitude.
Often during Lent and other times through the year, we feel like God isn't just leading us into a desert - our hearts themselves are deserts. Instead imagine your heart, your soul, as a garden. There is rich soil with beautiful flowers and fruits, and there are some weeds. Some rocks. Some dead plants. In the gardens of our hearts, we have often spent some time watering the flowers, yet there's much that we neglect because we are busy with other things. Some parts look a little more like a desert than a lush garden.
Gratitude is like the soil, the fertilizer, the foundation in which the rest of our garden comes to life. We may grow many flowers, but they won't be as tall or as strong or as vibrant without the foundation of gratitude. In St. Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians, he says, "Rejoice always, pray constantly, and give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" (1 Thess 5:16-18). We are called to be a people of grateful hearts, but we must pray constantly, asking for God's help. Cultivation is something that takes patience, practice, consistency, perseverance, and love.
This week, we will discover what Scripture says about gratitude and learn how to use it for inspiration when thankfulness isn't coming easily. But let us begin trying to be thankful in all circumstances. Let us ask God for the grace to see His face in everyone. Let us reflect on Matt Maher's lyrics, "You're making my heart a garden." How is God making your heart a garden?
Most importantly, let us ask for patience and love - especially towards ourselves - as we begin cultivating a heart of gratitude.