Do you have a gratitude practice? Many years ago, one of my Sunday School teachers taught me about gratitude journaling. I’ve never managed to keep a daily journal, but these days I like to keep running lists on the notes app on my phone, including a list of things for which I am grateful.
I read an article about researchers who wanted to study the effects of gratitude writing on people who were at a low point in their mental and emotional wellbeing. The research results “suggests that gratitude writing can be beneficial not just for healthy, well-adjusted individuals, but also for those who struggle with mental health concerns. In fact, it seems, practicing gratitude on top of receiving psychological counseling carries greater benefits than counseling alone, even when that gratitude practice is brief.”
In the latest Synod of the Sun Sunspots episode, I got to speak with my colleague, Thomas Riggs, about the Synod Partnership for Disaster Recovery (and how hard it is to remember the acronym SPDR). We talked about resiliency and discussed how our congregations and individuals are struggling this side of the COVID-19 pandemic and in the midst of the chaos going on in our world. I may have made up the word bonkery to describe our global crisis.
As I listened back to the podcast (which I don’t recommend… listening to your own speaking voice, I mean. You should totally listen to the podcast!), it reminded me of how simple and effective gratitude practices can be. Something we can ALL do before, during and after disasters happen in our lives to bolster ourselves and one another in the liminal spaces in which we find ourselves.
Recently, I started a new list on my notes app – a list of things about which I am hopeful. Things I believe in although I have yet to see them with my own eyes. Number 1 on that list is hoping my children will sleep in their own beds all through the night, every night! But further down that list, I remain hopeful for peace to be known by all the residents of our beautiful planet. Perhaps, a hope list is something you need during this season of global unrest and personal anxiety.
Even as it seems the commercialized Christmas season has already exploded in our neighborhood stores, I hope we don’t skip over this time where we are invited to share with our loved ones what is it that we are grateful for, and I invite you to also name something magical you still believe in, even though it remains unseen.
I think of this very partnership, SPDR. Not very long ago, a Synod-wide partnership between 11 presbyteries dedicated to supporting communities adversely affected by crises and disasters was something unheard of, and now it is here. The Spirit of God is still alive and well, weaving together our gratitude and hope into something beautiful. Can you believe it?