Lenten Reflection: Ch. 8 of Thoughts in Solitude

14 February 2008

Merton gets sinny.  He asserts that all sin is rooted in ingratitude toward God.

He also makes an important distinction: a person either has gratitude or doesn’t.  Merton equates those people who exhibit “kinda gratitude” with the “lukewarm” of the Gospels whom Jesus will vomit up.

Merton says that gratitude is the recognition of God’s love in all things at all times.  So true.  Gratitude, like love, is not a mental attitude but an experience.  The grateful person knows God is good because he has experienced God’s love and is therefore grateful.

Half-hearted gratitude, toward God or toward others, is fairly repellent.  Either one is thankful or one isn’t; going halfway here is really bull.  In gratitude, however, one can truly cherish or appreciate what we have and what is before us.

When we take something for granted —an oft mentioned failing we all have— is really a lack of gratitude.  I write this in the computer lab at school.  I often complain about my students, and I often take them for granted.  They give me the opportunity to teach and to have compassion and mercy for their many faults (and they have many).  Likewise, they offer me the opportunity to be forgiven when I lose my temper or am less than a great teacher (which is often in the latter case).

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