Gratitude that heals

A Christian Science perspective.

For years I had no working concept of God, at least not one that satisfied my yearning and yet was answerable to reason. The anthropomorphic God of my childhood had stopped seeming credible to me once I reached high school. I searched world religions and philosophies for decades until finally settling into an uneasy truce with this apparently unknown and inaccessible being.

Then the tragic loss of a friend shattered this standoff, and the timeless question of why bad things happen to good people demanded an answer. During this time another friend shared some thoughts about God as not someone who had to be pleased or appeased, but as infinite, divine Love, as Principle. And I realized that a God that is pure Love and unchanging Principle does not force tragedy upon us, but rather rescues us from it. And this concept of God became alive and meaningful to me. This understanding of God restored my faith in good, and for that I am deeply grateful.

I certainly have many reasons to feel grateful, which I celebrate quietly in my own thought, and by directly thanking those for whom I am grateful. I am often awed and humbled by stories about kind and selfless acts done on behalf of others, sometimes by persons unknown. And there must be thousands upon thousands of good deeds, both untold and unacknowledged, occurring daily.

So Thanksgiving Day to me has always seemed like the most important of holidays, a day in which to step back and acknowledge all the good in the world, obvious or not.

How does one do that? I learned a good lesson about this from a friend who was healed in childhood more than 50 years ago of a crippling disease through Christian Science treatment. She’d been asked by a Christian Science practitioner who was praying for her to take inventory of everything she could think of to be grateful for. One item that stood out from her list was the “sidewalk outside her window” because even though she couldn’t walk on it, other people could. And so she was grateful on their behalf.

I can only guess what else showed up on my friend’s list, and I recall her saying it became a very long list indeed. She improved until all evidence of the ailment disappeared, never to return. But the gratitude and the simple practice of acknowledging it has remained with her to this day.

Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, wrote, “Are we really grateful for the good already received? Then we shall avail ourselves of the blessings we have, and thus be fitted to receive more” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 3). These ideas remind me to take inventory of all the blessings in my life, great and small; to acknowledge good; and to expect the continuation of good.

So every day I add to my own gratitude list. At the top of that list is my gratitude for the reawakening in my awareness of the presence of God, always with me. And on Thanksgiving I gratefully acknowledge, in the timeless words of George Washington’s original Thanksgiving Proclamation, “that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be.”

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