Week of Gratitude

A Week of Gratitude at People for Others

The next Week of Gratitude begins on November 17, 2014. Join us this week before Thanksgiving as we reflect on the many gifts we have received from God.

A Week of Gratitude: Jennifer Grant Is Grateful for Community

This is a guest post by Jennifer Grant.

Jennifer Grant - Week of Gratitude

Last week, I spoke with a women’s group that meets in a church basement not far from where I live. I enjoy this group—they represent various ages and ethnicities. They’re good listeners. And they love to laugh.

I spoke on times when feeling truly thankful to God for blessings received is a challenge. I knew that a few of these women, gathered on folding chairs in this brightly-lit basement on a Tuesday morning, were not awash in gratitude. Tired eyes and solemn expressions told me all I needed to know. And, as I spoke, I watched tears rise in some of their eyes.

At a break, the person in charge of refreshments made an announcement.

“Okay,” she began, hands on her hips, her tone playful. “So I’m grateful that when I went into the kitchen to make the coffee today, the floor was sticky and the soles of my shoes stuck. Furthermore, I’m grateful that the coffee cart tipped over because one of its wheels is missing. I’m grateful that I had to get down on hands and knees to clean it up.”

By the end of her rant, all of us were laughing.

And I felt grateful for community. For church basements and circles of chairs in libraries or bookshops or living rooms, where people gather together, listen to each other, and let tears fill their eyes. I was grateful for the healing, inexplicable calm that comes over us when we gather together like these women had on that autumn morning.

Jennifer Grant is the author of Wholehearted Living. A former health and parenting columnist for the Chicago Tribune and Sun Times Media newspapers, Grant contributes to her.meneutics, Fullfill, and other publications. Grant lives with her husband and four children in the suburbs of Chicago. Find her online at jennifergrant.com.

A Week of Gratitude: Richard Cole Is Grateful for Less

This is a guest post by Richard Cole.

Richard Cole - Week of Gratitude

I’m grateful for less, however little of less I’ve achieved. After years of contemplative prayer, I can’t tell if I’ve made any “progress.” I notice, however, that I’m saying a bit less these days, especially when I’m tempted to impress someone with a witty remark, light teasing, or something else that might be seen as impressive. I hold my tongue and almost immediately I realize that my remark would have just complicated the situation, leading to more chatter and useless agitation that the world really doesn’t need. Less is better.

I’ve been reading Night of the Confessor by Tomas Halik. He writes about the virtues of a “little faith,” small and insignificant, almost like nothing. The opposite of a little faith, he says, is the overly casual or even aggressive accumulation of certainties, a form of triumphalism that can distance us from God. “My question is whether our faith, like our Lord, is not required to ‘suffer more, be crucified, and die’ before it can ‘rise from the dead.’’’

This understanding seems to be in line with contemplative payer—an ongoing winnowing, reduction, and diminution. Less is more, says Scripture, so that’s my prayer and gratitude, a little faith with less of me and more of God.

Richard Cole is the author of Catholic by Choice. His poetry and prose have been published in The New Yorker, Poetry, The Sun, Hudson Review and Image Journal: Good Letters. He works as a business writer in Austin, TX. Learn more at www.richard-cole.net.

A Week of Gratitude: Three Things Ellen Knuth Is Thankful for

This is a guest post by Ellen Knuth.

A Week of Gratitude - Three Things Ellen Knuth Is Thankful for

I am grateful for words. This may seem like too obvious of a choice for someone who has recently become an author, but it’s true, words are something for which I am constantly thankful. In their most basic form they help me think, providing structure and direction to my emotions, and allowing me to communicate my feelings to others. But it isn’t only the words themselves that I appreciate.

I am grateful for the freedom to express myself. Words are an essential part of this; they enable many different tones, depths, and potency of expression, but without the freedom to use them, they would ultimately be moot. This freedom and acceptance of the way I use my words is something I give thanks for every day.

Finally, I am grateful for the permission to remain silent. Words carry power, both good and bad, so the permission to keep them to myself is a blessing. My most frequent plea to God is to give me grace and, more often than not, he has led me to it through things left unsaid. I am unspeakably (pun intended) grateful for this, for often, in preserving my own silence, I am given the chance to listen more closely to the words of others.

Ellen Knuth recently returned to the USA after five years in Japan. Having already been an English teacher, a singer in a rock band, a dairy princess, a MC, and a newspaper columnist, Ellen now works as a university relations manager for a study and intern abroad company. Settled (for now) in Clinton Township, MI, she is the co-author of Love Will Steer Me True.

A Week of Gratitude: Three Things Jim Manney Is Thankful for

This is a guest post by Jim Manney.

A Week of Gratitude: Three Things Jim Manney Is Thankful for

Here are three people, who stand for other things besides themselves.

Victor Martinez. He was the best hitter on the Detroit Tigers this year. He represents the great pleasure I took in baseball, and in so much else in the culture I live in: Gravity, Bruce Springsteen and Alison Krauss, The Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, the Metropolitan Opera in HD, Car Talk, novels by Donna Tartt and David Mitchell, urbansketchers.org, Viking River Cruises, Words with Friends, and, as they say, a whole lot more.

St. Peter Faber. The newest Jesuit saint stands for the riches of Ignatian spirituality. I continue to find new things along the Ignatian path. This year it was the writing of St. Peter. He wrote, “Everywhere there is good to be done, everywhere there is something to be planted and harvested. For we are indebted to all men in every condition and in every place.”

Jean Rogers. She is my aunt, a wonderfully wise and generous and witty woman, who stands for all the people in my life. Children, grandchildren, cousins, old friends, new friends, colleagues and confidants—I get together with them at weddings and funerals, holidays and cookouts, in coffee shops and restaurants. I’ll be with a bunch of them this Thanksgiving.

For all this, I give thanks to God.

Jim Manney is a popular author and editor of Ignatian spirituality books, including An Ignatian Book of Days and A Simple, Life-Changing Prayer. Manney lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.