Daily Reflection
August 17th, 2000
Lori Spanbauer
Campus Ministry
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Ezekiel 12:1-12
Psalms 78:56-59, 61-62
Matthew 18:21--19:1

A current popular music group, Savage Garden, has a line in song: "Forgiveness is the key to your unhappiness."  I believe in many cases this is true.  Recently I've discovered that gratitude can be a key to our unhappiness and can lead us closer to forgiveness.  I can't help but think that the Gospel story would have turned out much differently if the official had acted out of a sense of gratitude for having been mercifully pardoned by his master.

Do the works of the Lord spur us on to gratitude?  I believe they, when I take the time to see and hear them, lead me to gratitude.  I was blessed enough this summer to have spent six weeks on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.  It was a wonderful experience and one of the most beautiful areas of the country I have seen.  I am grateful for the experience, and I believe that gratitude has made a difference in how to I respond to the people and circumstances of my life.

South Dakota has some of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen.  The memory of and gratitude for those sunsets has made me less likely to curse the sun, especially when the air conditioning in my car was not working this summer, and when I walk into my non-air conditioned home. 

The silence on the reservation is a silence that, as Kathleen Norris says, "sinks into your bones."  It was a silence that allowed me to breathe deeply for the first time in a long time.  My gratitude for that silence has made me less likely to curse the quiet or nervously seek noise when the house is too still.  I can now welcome the silence and celebrate it.

I slowed down a lot in South Dakota.  The time and space allowed me see and hear the incredible beauty that was all around me.  The slow pace of life and my gratitude for the abundance of time and space on the reservation leaves me more forgiving of traffic jams and of the long lines at the grocery store.  Those are times when I'm forced to slow down and pay attention to what is around me.

These works of the Lord lead me to gratitude and allow me to forgive the circumstances and people in my life that threatened to unleash my irritation, anger, and unhappiness.  I will allow you to imagine how the parable in today's gospel would have been different if the official had acted out of gratitude for the mercy shown him.  And I will allow you to imagine how your day or week will be different if you act out of gratitude for the works of the Lord, for what your eyes see and your ears hear. 

"And my father in heaven will treat you in exactly the same way…"

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