As we come to spiritual maturity, we grow in appreciation of our talents and blessings. We realize that we are not entitled to them. We have not earned them. They are gifts from God.

One danger is that we might take things for granted. We can easily perceive that ‘what we grew up with’ is the norm. Americans who lived through the Great Depression seem to me to be most appreciative of other people and thankful for their support.They are also very careful about conserving and maintaining material possessions. Those of us who grew up in more affluent times seem more likely to take people or possessions for granted.

There is a danger that after awhile we start to take our friends for granted.

My friend Kevin had the contrary attitude. He used to say that ‘It’s all gift.’

Such radical gratitude makes for a positive life. I find that when I focus on gratitude I am much more positive-- and not so dissatisfied with others and with myself. We would do well to count our blessings every day.

Christians live their lives with gratitude.

  • For the Wonders of Creation—The Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins praises God for the uniqueness of each living thing. The creation in all its particulars is a great gift.
  • For the fact that Christ suffered and died for us while we were still sinners. At the Eucharist we give thanks for this gift and the many other blessings we have received.
  • For Friendships—Friends are given to us by God. They are a treasure.

My friend Kevin reminded me—through his life and writing—that even suffering is a ‘gift’. He wrote about his ‘gift of cancer’.  I must say that I, and other of his friends, had trouble with seeing cancer as a ‘gift.’ But his perception challenged all our presuppositions.

Friends do this. They share their deepest spiritual perceptions with us. They challenge our preconceptions. They force us to go deeper.

John W. Crossin, OSFS

1. The Experience of Friendship 2. Kinds of Friendship  |  3. Spiritual Friendship  |  4. Discerning God's Plan
5. Healing Relationships  |  6. Patience in Friendship  |  7. Gratitude