He took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, and they all drank from it.
Like love, gratitude had to show up in this series. Gratitude is one of the most researched and scientifically-endorsed paths to resilience. Gratitude tends to cause joy. But I’ve been avoiding gratitude because there’s just so much of it all over the Bible. Where to begin? It is, perhaps, the nature of gratitude to ask: Where to begin? For what can I be grateful, should I be grateful for first, and once I start, how do I know when to stop? What “counts” as gratitude and what’s me just upending “Thank you” to the thought I wanted to say? When Jesus offers the first Communion at the Last Supper, it is gratitude and belonging woven into a ritual of resilience. One of the last gifts Jesus gives is belonging and thanks. One could argue that Judas betrayed Jesus because he’d forgotten what it meant to feel gratitude–at least, it’s a convincing theory. The poet Ross Gay wrote,
“what do you think
this singing and shuddering is,
what this screaming and reaching and dancing
and crying is, other than loving
what every second goes away?”
and I can’t think of a better description for Jesus’ actions at the Last Supper, and into Gethsemane, to the cross, telling the disciples to love and love what every day goes away.
Takeaway: Try it, this way of saying thank you: set a timer for five minutes and write a list of things you’re thankful for. Keep your hand moving, when you run out of things to say just write “thank you thank you thank you” until something new comes to mind. “Bellow forth the tubas and sousaphones/the whole rusty brass band of gratitude,” as Ross Gay writes. When you’re done (but only when you’re done), if you want to transform your life, just for fun, listen to the whole 13-minute glittering universe of Ross Gay’s poem, “Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude.” It’s worth every second.
Gathering the Stones is providing 40 days of reflections on resilience during Lent. Check back for new reflections every day (except Sundays).