As I make my way into the working world as a minister for one of the largest and busiest parishes in the Cleveland diocese, I often find myself frantic with the next thing on my to-do list: Confirmation Prep, youth night, retreats, the weekly bulletin, websites, videos, service events. There is an unending amount of work to be done and relationships to be made and one of the evils of such an intense, fast-paced schedule is that it’s easy to never stop. But Ignatius challenges us to pause in our frenzied lives to give thanks to God. Not just by saying thank you in passing but by actually stopping our lives to recall the gifts God has provided us. Ignatius uses beautiful language in the Spiritual Exercises when he talks about this. He writes that we need to take the time to relish and savor the many gifts we are given.
How often is it that we forget to savor the tiny aspects of our day that lead us to God? I know that I personally spend hours crossing off things on my to-do list but somehow, “Give thanks to God,” and “Pray the Examen” always finds a way to be bumped off. Somehow or another I convince myself that I don’t have time. However, James Martin, SJ, profoundly writes, that “savoring is the antidote to our increasingly rushed schedules.” And without this savoring we become “human doings” instead of “human beings.” Martin’s quote was a serious wake-up call for me because I often fall into the trap of becoming a human to-do list, missing the opportunities to savor in the infinite gifts that God offers me.
This week I had the opportunity to catch up with an old friend and she saw how overwhelmed I was with work. We spent over an hour talking about life, work, and relationships and I walked away with a simple theme from our conversation: “Fight for the space to give thanks.”
We must fight for the space to give thanks—to savor God’s gifts. And we fight because it’s so easy to not give thanks.
So, this November, during the month of Thanksgiving, I invite you to join me, as I fight to savor all of God’s gifts in my busy and frantic days. Why? Because true gratitude to God brings a deep healing into our lives. It becomes medicine for our frantic souls.
“All the things in this world are gifts of God, presented to us so that we can know God more easily and make a return of love more readily.” – A Contemporary Reading of the First Principle and Foundation by David Flemming, SJ