by Donna Chacko
On this last day of what has been a torturous 2020, let each of us ask: how we can make 2021 better for ourselves and others? I’m convinced that taking the time to ask and answer this question is the first step toward achieving the goal—and, New Year’s Eve is the perfect time to do this.
Cultivating gratitude is one of the most powerful things you can do to make 2021 better. Intentionally shine a bright light of gratitude on your life and then look around. Do you see some blessings that you take for granted? This might be big things like your faith, your family, or your health. Or it could be little blessings of every day life, like your morning coffee, a comfortable chair, a special song, or a baby’s giggle. During this year of altered routines, I noticed I was surprisingly grateful for little things, like my rose blooms or the black Labrador puppy next door. Amidst all the loss, pain, and division, there is always something to be grateful for—even if the one thing is your God who never wavers.
Finding blessings is probably more challenging for those of you who are grieving or overwhelmed with job loss, unbearable financial insecurity, or sickness. I pray every day for your well-being and hope that others who are both blessed and grateful will share their blessings with you. In the meantime, please try to draw close to God for comfort and guidance.
When the renowned 20th century saxophonist, John Coltrane, shone the light of gratitude on his life, something sacred and mysterious happened. The words of a gratitude prayer sprung from his mind, but the expression of this prayer flowed from his saxophone. He played his prayer, one holy note at a time, in the song Psalm, part of his 1965 album, Love Supreme. Psalm is Coltrane’s heartfelt declaration of faith and gratitude to God after his long struggle with addiction. Coltrane wrote the words to his prayer on a piece of paper, placed that paper on his music stand, picked up his saxophone, and spontaneously played the words on his instrument. It ends with: “Thank you God. Elation. Elegance. Exaltation. All from God. Thank you God. Amen.”
I encourage you to prayerfully listen to Coltrane’s soulful music while simultaneously scrolling through his handwritten lines of prayer. When I did this, I was moved to tears. Through his timeless music, Coltrane shines his gratitude on all who ever listen to his song. He most definitely is letting his light shine in a way that can illumine a better path for us in 2021.
Our world really needs all of us to let our lights shine. Recharge your batteries with prayer. Then reflect on and express your gratitude for what is good and beautiful in your life, no matter how small. Your gratitude will shine a much needed light on our hurting world. You may not reach as many people as Coltrane with the light of your gratitude, but you will feel better and so will those around you. It is a gift that keeps on giving.
“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”
William Arthur Ward
Happy New Year to the Godspace family and special thanks to Christine Sine and her staff. It is a privilege to write in this space. To see more of what I write about health and faith and to receive “Three Keys to a Holy, Happy and Health Life, go to serenityandhealth.com/subscribe.
God bless each of you.