In Others’ Words: Discipline and Celebration

Beth Vogt In Others' Words, Quotes 7 Comments

Gratitude. Nouwen. 2014

Two words stand out to me in Henri Nouwen’s quote: discipline and gratitude.

Nouwen reminds us that gratitude is a discipline — that it takes effort to be thankful. And knowing how easily I can fall into counting my “lack of” rather than counting all the ways my life is filled to overflowing with so much more goodness than I ever expected … well, I have to agree with Nouwen. I must put forth effort — strive — to be grateful.

And then there’s that word celebration.

Do I take the time to celebrate? Birthdays, yes. Holidays, yes. Accomplishments, yes. But what about the intangible-eternal things worth celebrating? I am the recipient of a miraculous gift of love — one woven through and through with the words redeemed and reconciled. A gift that proclaims I am worth life … and … death … and life again.

This truth is worth celebrating every day of my life — it is a reason to have joy no matter what else is happening in my life.

In Your Words: What reasons do you have to celebrate with joy … to be grateful no matter what the circumstances of your life?

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See you next Monday — Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Comments 7

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  1. Before I got my first pacemaker at age 42, I had to fight really hard to live for those hours of being med-i-vaced to a larger city, moved ahead to surgery, etc. That cemented the desire to live and celebrate life, finish raising my two sons, and do all kinds of life goals in my heart like maybe nothing else could have done. That turned out to be a very good and important experience sharpening my outlook and appreciation ever since.

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  2. Good morning, Beth. I hope this dawn finds you well, and with ample reason to look forward to Thanksgiving.

    I was thinking along the lines of Fr. Nouwen’s comment this morning, as I beheld the last of the night, and the faint light of the coming day.

    It would seem to me that a disciplined mind, appreciative of even small graces, is the ultimate temporal gift of salvation. It is not “looking forward to Heaven”, though under my present circumstances that would be understandable. Nor is it “eat drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die”, an anticipation of loss.

    Rather, this discipline is one of the understanding that in the midst of one’s suffering, there is still the opportunity to show love, and to channel God’s grace, There is still the opportunity to make a positive statement, even if it is unheard by human ears. If the very stones can rejoice,then they can also hear, and pass along, through some level of vibration beyond our ken, a message of hope and love.

    As an example, Alexander Solzhenitsyn wrote of a cellmate who maintained a relentlessly cheerful and courteous outlook. He was always pleasant, kept himself clean, and maintained fitness by exercising within the confines of a tiny cell. This individual was an army officer who had been denounced, and had been sentenced to death.

    Yours in Christ, and yours in hope,


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      Good morning, Andrew,
      “…in the midst of one’s suffering, there is still the opportunity to show love, to channel God’s grace.”
      Such a profound truth — and such a challenge to live by.
      And I also love how you ended your comment today:
      “Yours in Christ, and yours in hope” — because those to realities give us the reasons for gratitude and celebration.
      And I hope you know I am thankful for your friendship, Andrew.

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