Several years ago my husband and I were sitting on the front porch with a friend whose life was falling apart. We shared mojitos and listened to his story, grieving his losses with him. After a time, though, he looked up and said, “I am so blessed!” I squinted at him and asked him to repeat himself. And again, “I am so blessed.” I asked how he figured that. And he proceeded to list the things in his life that were good, the blessings he counted in the midst of his pain.
I was shocked. I’ve been through difficult times, and have gotten quite good at acknowledging suffering. So good, in fact, that I sometimes forget how to see past it. This friend opened my eyes again to choice. The choice I have—we all have—to engage life with gratitude.
I turned 39 this week, and it was one of the best birthdays of my life. It wasn’t a perfect day, but it was a deeply good day. The past year has been a great year. Not a perfect year, but a profoundly rich year. Gratitude has marked much of this year, and is beginning to leave its mark on my life.
I have committed myself to joy. I have come to realize that those who make space for joy, those who prefer nothing to joy, those who desire the utter reality, will most assuredly have it. We must not be afraid to announce it to refugees, slum dwellers, saddened prisoners, angry prophets. Now and then we must even announce it to ourselves. In this prison of now, in this cynical and sophisticated age, someone must believe in joy.
(Richard Rohr, OFM, 5/19/09 Sojourners)