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Devotion: Gratitude

This devotion was given by NLC Choir President, Michael Olsen, whose daughter recently got married. The piece Michael references, "I Lift Up My Eyes," was commissioned by David Salmi, who passed away on October 21, 2015. The choir will sing this piece at both All Saints concerts, November 1 and 6.

Marriage, and other rituals in which we participate, such as baptisms and funerals, bring out in me a powerful sense of gratitude. Gratitude that things went better than I had imagined, even if half of the house was supposed to be newly sided, but instead half of it was either exposed plywood or partially house-wrapped in Tyvek. Gratitude for the unseasonably beautiful weather. Gratitude for family and friends. Gratitude for wonderful new in-laws. Really. Well, mostly. But also, gratitude for the time we got to have with loved ones lost. Gratitude for life lessons learned the hard way. Gratitude for our comings and goings being watched over.

About gratitude:
“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” 
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer.” 
― Maya Angelou, Celebrations: Rituals of Peace and Prayer

“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.” 
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

“The lord will watch over your going out and your coming in forever more.” Psalm 121:8.  

Every time we get to that portion of “I Lift Up My Eyes”, I get a lump in my throat. Can’t sing it. I’m thankful that that doesn’t happen to all of us, as I’m sure David is too. But the concept that the truly awe-some God of the universe is attentive to your and my comings and goings is overwhelming.  I don’t know David Salmi, our commissioner of this work, very well, but I have come to know him a little in the last 10 months, or so, through Steven [Branstad], and my fiancé, Marie, as a man who lives out his gratitude.  Despite his diagnosis and the circumstances of recent years, he is choosing to celebrate the good he has experienced in life.

Joy is to happiness, as gratitude is to luck. 

I think that gratitude isn’t really circumstantial; it’s a mind-set. I’ve seen people with very hard lives and who have very few material possessions express deep, profound gratitude.

The Lord be with you. Please pray with me:

Lord, may we sing with gratitude in our hearts and draw others into a spirit of thanksgiving. Amen