A friend of mine is currently trying (and maybe I should add, almost four months in, succeeding) to blog about something she is grateful for every single day for a year.
Realistically, I am not going to even attempt to do that. If I did, it would probably last for about three days. I know my limits.
There is definitely something in it though. Blogging every day: no chance. But being grateful every day, yes, maybe that is something I could do. Something I should do. Something I need to do.
It is very easy to be dragged down by the ills of the world: to look at all that is wrong and painful, and difficult, and dark, and unjust, and wonder what on earth it is all about. It is easy to imagine, surrounded as we are by so much hurt, that there is something very naive and just a little bit stupid about living in a spirit of joyfulness and gratitude.
And I'm certainly not saying I'm going to start being grateful for the bad stuff. Nor am I about to shut my eyes to it and pretend we all live in a rosy world where everything goes exactly as we would wish it, because do you know what, we don't.
But sometimes a shift in perspective reminds us that in spite of all that causes pain, our own and that of others, we still have a lot for which we can be grateful; and to celebrate those things is neither naive nor crass. The celebration of, and gratitude for, the riches of life need in no way detract from our concern for suffering and injustice. Perhaps, on the contrary, our ability to be grateful for what is good is what gives us the strength to not just be mired in all that is difficult, weighed down by the weight of all that is wrong, but to act as a force for change and for good.
It was one of the things that struck me most forcefully and most persistently when we were in the Philippines: the ability of people with, by our Western perspectives, so little, to be so grateful for all that they have and are. And if they can do it, then guess what, so can I.