Dear Hyde Park Family,
We are a week away from Thanksgiving, and I pray your days ahead will be filled with moments of joy, reflection, and connecting with loved ones.
As the season suggests, may there also be occasions for you to give deep thanks to God and to each other for the blessings that you enjoy. And may your expression of thanksgiving be more than just a special occurrence before an annual meal; may it become a way of life.
So, here are three practical tips you might consider for cultivating a pattern of gratitude in your life.
1. Be as Specific as You Can.
There have been seasons of my life when I have maintained a gratitude journal, in which I intentionally write down two or three things I am grateful for every day.
The best advice I have ever received about keeping a gratitude journal is “the more specific, the better.” It is easy (albeit important) to be grateful for broad, general things, like your family, your health, your job, and other basic necessities. But research has shown that the more details you can give about specific experiences of gratitude, the more aware you will be of such blessings in the future.
For example, in my own gratitude journals, I have noted the following:
· The feeling of my bare feet on a newly cleaned floor, or the feeling of waking up in freshly cleaned bedsheets.
· Walking in the front door and seeing both my dogs wagging their tails in perfect sync.
· The rays of sunshine that poked through the trees as I was walking around my neighborhood, just as I was listening to a beautiful rendition of a favorite praise song.
2. Try the Daily Examen Prayer.
Many Christian communities observe the Daily Offices, a rhythm of daily prayer that aligns with different moments of the day. One of the evening prayers is called the Daily Examen, which is a structured way to review the past day with prayer and gratitude. The following uses the pattern prescribed by St. Ignatius of Loyola.
Begin with a pause and a slow, deep breath or two; become aware that you are in the presence of the Holy.
What am I especially grateful for in the past day:
· The gift of another day…
· The love and support I have received…
· The courage I have mustered…
· An event that took place today…
Petition and Review:
I am about to review my day; I ask for the light to know God and to know myself as God sees me.
· Where have I felt true joy today?
· What has troubled me today?
· What has challenged me today?
· Where and when did I pause today?
· Have I noticed God’s presence in any of this?
Response and Look Ahead:
· In light of my review, what is my response to the God of my life?
· As I look ahead, what comes to mind?
· With what spirit do I want to enter tomorrow?
3. Answer These Two Simple Questions.
Finally, you might find value in regularly answering the very same two questions that my therapist asks me at the conclusion of each of our sessions:
· Since we last met, what is one thing that you are proud of?
· What is one thing you are looking forward to?
I have learned to love those two questions, and it is often my favorite part of my therapy sessions. It has come to the point that I ask myself those questions even when I am not meeting my therapist.
No matter how hard life might become, God has empowered you to accomplish at least one thing that you can be proud of (and again, the more specific, the better.) And no matter how fearful or challenging the days ahead might feel to you, there is always something, even something small, that you can look forward to in the future.
So, friends, as you move into the week ahead, may it be filled with delightful, even surprising, reminders of all that God has done for you, in you, and through you.
ESTIMATE OF GIVING CARDS
Thank you to the many, many of you who have enabled us to get off to a strong start in receiving our estimates of giving for 2022. If you have not yet done so, please fill out your estimate by clicking here. Your estimates of giving are the only way our Finance Committee has to accurately plan for all the ministries and programs God is calling us to do next year. Thank you!