Saturday, September 05, 2009

a thoughtful link

I know some of you read the Anchoress' blog (recently moved to First Things). She often links to longer, thoughtful pieces.

I particularly liked this recent one: The Importance of Gratitude.

(As you might guess, coming from The Anchoress, it works from a religious perspective - but I think there is also some stuff there the non-religious will appreciate. And I do agree with the concerns about what is happening to gratitude in our society).

An interesting observation the writer (who is British) makes, about the custom of "buying rounds" - at the end of the night, each bar patron probably has only laid out as much money as he would have had he been drinking "alone" (buying only his own drinks). And yet, the attitude, the sense of camaraderie, is totally different when he buys rounds for all his friends and they reciprocate - no one is really the poorer for the activity, monetarily, and they are greatly enriched by once again strengthening the bonds of friendship.

The writer also notes with dismay the rise of ingratitude and its linked envy-of-what-others-have. And I admit I do see some of that - even among the Youth Group kids. And in my college students. And in some of the other "grown ups" around me.

And I admit, I'm guilty of ingratitude myself - or at least, of not actively stopping on a regular basis and marveling at how blessed I really am: I have work, good work, interesting work, that pays me well enough that I can support myself. I have food on my table, food I did not have to grow or subdue or butcher myself. I have abundant food - in fact, such abundance of food that I often bemoan that I am not slimmer than I am. I have good health, which is something no money can buy. I have people around me who love me and who would step in to help me if I needed help: the people I go to church with, my colleagues. (And yes, I think my colleagues would step in and help if I needed it; I have seen them do the same (and done the same myself) for others). I have sufficient interest and joy in life to find things to do that I am not bored, in fact, quite the reverse: I never have enough time to do all the things that interest me. I have a house. I have freedoms. I do not live in a country where my father or brother would have to accompany me whenever I went somewhere, and where I would be seen as a fallen woman or a pitiable figure because I have not married. I have, largely by God's grace (I think) managed to avoid some of the worse forms of trouble a person in our society can have.

And yet, so often, I take all of that for granted.

But yes, I do have a lot. Far more than I deserve. And it is good to be reminded of the incredible luck, or blessings, or grace that has given it to me.

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