Praised be Jesus Christ! For the record, writing this article almost killed me! Please allow me to explain. For as long as I’ve been here I’ve had an old, solid oak desk in my office. About a year ago I discovered that it was blocking the one vent and that was probably responsible for the fact that I was perpetually cold (no comments from the peanut gallery – I think the fact that it only took 61⁄2 years to figure this out is better than average for me). So we found an old desk in the basement (one that no longer blocks the vent) and found a friend to refinish it. A couple of weeks ago it was time to switch out the old and bring in the new desk (which is working wonderfully – as I’m typing this article I can actually feel my toes). While transferring all of the contents from the old desk to the “new” one, I found the article that I’ve shared below. We intended all along to move the oak desk to the basement, and Father Barry was more than willing to help me. Some of the office help thought we were biting off a bit more than we could chew, but what we lack in brawn we more than make up for in savvy and ingenuity. We were sliding the desk (on its side – it is about 5 feet tall when in this position) down the stairs backwards when Father Barry slipped and missed a step. I was directly underneath the desk and I thought for sure it was over. My life flashed before my eyes and I only wished I had kept my life insurance policy. For whatever reason, the desk did not fall on my head and crush me like a bug. We managed to get the desk to its new home in the basement, but I think I’ll stick to my day job from now on. So please enjoy this article that was written by Michael Perry (a friend of mine passed it along a couple of years ago and I put it in my old desk thinking it would be nice to share it someday): “Gratitude. Such a lovely word. Humble and warm. Humble, because it’s not a word you use if you think you did everything yourself. Humble, because no matter how hard you did work at whatever it is you’re grateful for, you know – and more importantly, acknowledge – there was some luck involved. Warm, because gratitude is not compatible with a cold soul. Warm, because gratitude radiates, like the gentle rays of a heart -sized sun. Gratitude goes softly out and does good works – which generates more gratitude. Gratitude is renewable energy. Gratitude, because to offer anything less would be to ignore all privilege. The privilege of existence. The privilege of health. The privilege of privilege. And now we are back at humility – or ought to be. Gratitude, because the world is awash with the sour surf of opposing sentiments. Gratitude, for those who show us the same. Gratitude, even in grumpiness. Which is to say I am not talking all hosannas, hugs, and puppies here, I am talking about perspective and preponderance and relativity and a sideways glance into the cosmic mirror, where behind me I spy millions of souls who would give all they own for just one of my disappointing Tuesdays. Gratitude as my moral duty. Gratitude, because it’s so easy. A note. A word. You don’t even have to talk. Gratitude can be soundless. You can speak it with your eyes. Share it with a smile. Weave it into your works. You can kneel down and offer it up. Gratitude. A triple- syllabic salutation to the six directions, whichever way you’re pointing. The echoes go on and on. The echoes are gratitude returning. There is the idea among psychologists that gratitude can be cultivated. Put it out there and it comes back to you. Gratitude as a practice. As an intentional act. Gratitude in the form of reflection. A quiet moment. A look back. Gratitude, not as obligation but as celebration. Gratitude, with our loved ones in mind. The ones who suffer our ingratitudes with grace, and that grace yet another reason for gratitude. Grace: cousin and catalyst to gratitude. Gratitude, because as this year draws to a close I am reminded it was another year granted, not guaranteed, and therefore not taken for granted. Gratitude, no matter the season. Gratitude.” Oh yes, gratitude – I’m grateful to spend another Christmas with you!
May God bless you with the grace of His peace this Christmas! Your friend in Christ, Father Martin