Listen to the Spirit… adapt as needed…
stay longer where you are drawn…
“[Consider] God’s gifts to me. God creates me out of love and desires nothing more than a return of love on my part. So much does God love that even though I turn away and make little response, this Giver of all good gifts continues to be my Savior and Redeemer. All my natural abilities and gifts, along with the gifts of Baptism and Eucharist and the special graces lavished upon me, are only so many signs of how much God our Lord shares divine life with me and wants to share ever more.” – Spiritual Exercises #234
Grace to seek/ask: To be honest with how we are present to the gifts of our lives & open to developing a deeper sense of gratitude…
Gen. 1:1-2:3 – “God looked at everything he had made, and found it very good. Evening came, and morning followed—the sixth day.”
Kings 19:9-14 – Elijah encountered God surprisingly not through the heavy wind, earthquake, or fire, but in the “light silent sound.”
James 1:16-18 — “…all good giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no alteration or shadow caused by change.”
Please share for a few minutes about how you are doing, based on the following questions:
- Since the last time we’ve met, what has given you life or drawn you closer to God? In particular, how might you have cultivated an attitude of discovery or a willingness to take risks? Did God surprise you at all as a result of this greater openness?
- What has drained you of life or drawn you away from God?
- Please describe any significant encounter with God in prayer, service, or relationship with others.
“If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you,
it will be enough.” -Meister Eckhart
Last time, we considered how an attitude of discovery and a greater willingness to take risks can help us allow God to reveal God’s self to us. Tonight, let’s take another look at our tendencies to be aware (or unaware) of the gifts of our lives–of the gift that is life. When we first started sharing our spiritual autobiographies, we tried to individually take 5 minutes at the end of each day outside of the group to reflect in gratitude on how God has been present and working in our lives (2.02 Personal Prayer Outside the Group). Some of us may even have kept a gratitude journal or simply noted 3-5 things we were grateful for each day. Now, let’s take an even more intentional look together at how gratitude can help us be more attentive to God’s gifts and movements in our lives–how the gifts of creation are instrumental to God’s self-revelation. Just as a piece of art can tell us something about the artist who made it, so too creation and its gifts can help us better discover who God is and who we are. For tonight’s exercise, let’s watch a video together and discuss our thoughts, feelings, and reactions.
Video: Gratitude by Louie Schwartzberg
Listening and Sharing
- What environments (people, places, things) and internal experiences (thoughts, feelings, memories, dreams) help you to get in touch with gratitude?
- What environments (people, places, things) and internal experiences (thoughts, feelings, memories, dreams) make it difficult for you to get in touch with gratitude?
- In your life now, how can you better cultivate an attitude of gratefulness–a sense of and appreciation for the gifts in your life?
- What do the gifts of your life reveal about their Giver? How might being more attentive to these gifts help you better discover who God is?
These are questions that allow community members to listen to and share about what is moving within them after the focus exercise. Specific questions about the focus exercise can be included here, but facilitators may choose to approach this time differently, such as with more open ended questions, etc.
- What has struck you as you have been listening to others share? Do you notice any patterns or similarities?
- How have you been feeling throughout the meeting? Comfortable? Anxious? Curious?
- Is there anything you would like to share after listening to another person share?
- What stays with you? What do you hope to return to in prayer at another point in the week?
Thank you to those who hosted the meeting. Thank you everyone for being present and participating. Let us remember and lift-up one another in prayer, especially for any special intentions which may have surfaced through our conversation tonight.
To continue to help us develop deeper daily gratitude before we next meet, perhaps we can each try to return to the practice of looking back over our day with God to become more aware of God’s gifts and graces to us. In addition, maybe we could try to notice how our image or way of relating to God might be affected by this deepening gratitude…
Hearts on Fire – Page 53 – “Teach Me Thy Paths” by St. Alphonsus Rodriguez SJ
Lord, let me know you, let me know myself.
Lord, you do your will and not mine.
I’m just coming, Lord.