When I think of gratitude, I think of G. K. Chesterton. I can think of few others who appeared to be always animated by a deep and inexhaustible gratitude for life and all that it entailed. With that in mind, here are few lines from Chesterton on the theme of gratitude and thanks:
- “I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”
- “You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in the ink.”
- “When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.”
And then I am also reminded of the closing line of a poem by Wendell Berry. The poem is inspired by a poignant scene in Shakespeare’s “King Lear”:
I think of Gloucester, blind, led through the world
To the world’s edge by the hand of a stranger
Who is his faithful son. At the cliff’s verge
He flings away his life, as of no worth,
The true way lost, his eyes two bleeding wounds—
And finds his life again, and is led on
By the forsaken son who has become
His father, that the good may recognize
Each other, and at last go ripe to death.
We live the given life, and not the planned.
“We live the given life, and not the planned.” That line etched itself into my mind the moment I first read it. Simple and profound, an antidote to the disorders of our time.
It would make a great difference, would it not, if our posture toward life were such that we received it as a gift with gratitude and wonder; if our hands were open to receive and to give in turn rather than clutched to take and to keep?
I tend to think it would make all the difference.
Also consider my 2011 Thanksgiving post: “Gratitude as a Measure of Technology”