Grateful Gatherings Resources Welcome Session

Everything is a gift. The degree to which we are awake to this truth is a measure of our gratefulness, and gratefulness is a measure of our aliveness.

Br. David Steindl-Rast

Introduction

Welcome! What a delight to imagine you gathered in homes, work places, libraries, coffee shops, spiritual communities, parks — wherever you’re convening — to begin your journey with Grateful Gatherings. In this first session, we invite you to connect with one another, share what has brought you here, learn more about what you can expect from Grateful Gatherings, and have a meaningful conversation about the enriching possibilities of living a grateful life. 

Please consider this session a first step in what we’ve designed to be a rich and purposeful exploration of grateful living that will unfold and deepen over months and years. We’ll devote the first three sessions to the foundations of grateful living and the practice of gratefulness. From there, we’ll provide resources for you to dive into the many aspects of grateful living through monthly themes like Say Yes to Joy, Welcome Imperfection, Navigate Grief, Reimagine Rest, Awaken to Awe, and Act with Courage.

Grateful Gatherings are unique among our many programs in that they are offered by volunteers around the globe who have gone through our Grateful Gatherings Host Training. The Gatherings are open to anyone searching for community connection and conversations with purpose. All of our programs are designed to support your daily life during joyful times and challenging ones.

Inspired by our founder, the internationally beloved “Grandfather of Gratitude” Br. David Steindl-Rast, the Grateful Gatherings are infused with a revolutionary spirit — a call to live lives of meaning and purpose. Wherever you are in your lived experience, you are welcome here. Each step is part of the journey. Let’s go together.

Video

What is your lived response to the fact that you are here and that this day has been given to you? In this 5-minute video, our founder Br. David Steindl-Rast invites us to open our senses, minds, and hearts to everything around us — to be fully awake and alive.

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  • How might your life be impacted by approaching each day as not just another day but the “one day that is given to you” — a gift? What makes this possible, and what makes it difficult?
  • If you approached the day as if it were your very first day, what would you see, hear, feel notice? What would seem extraordinary? What would be heartbreaking?
  • If you approached the day as if it were your last, how would you spend it? What does this remind you of in terms of your priorities and cares?
  • Would you need to make any changes if you tried to be a blessing to everyone you encounter?
  • One of the things you will discover through your participation in Grateful Gatherings is that grateful living isn’t about just embracing the good stuff or putting a silver lining on the difficult and painful. It’s about learning to hold both simultaneously. 
  • When you consider your own life, have you ever felt grateful in the midst of sorrow or difficulty? 
  • What has it felt like to hold gratefulness in one hand and grief or sadness in the other? 
  • How would you describe the relationship between the two?

Poem

In his poem Thank You, Ross Gay invites us to root ourselves in gratefulness, even amidst despair and sorrow. Not to raise our fist nor take cover, but to become fully present.

Thank You by Ross Gay

If you find yourself half naked
and barefoot in the frosty grass, hearing,
again, the earth’s great, sonorous moan that says
you are the air of the now and gone, that says
all you love will turn to dust,
and will meet you there, do not
raise your fist. Do not raise
your small voice against it. And do not
take cover. Instead, curl your toes
into the grass, watch the cloud
ascending from your lips. Walk
through the garden’s dormant splendor.
Say only, thank you.
Thank you.


For Reflection:

  • What would it look like in your life to root yourself in gratefulness in this way, even when feeling the weight of your own or the world’s sorrows?
  • What are some ways that you say “thank you” in both good times and hard ones?

From Against Which. Copyright © 2006 by Ross Gay. Reprinted by kind permission of CavanKerry Press Ltd.

Practice

Let’s begin with something simple. Whether for a day or the month ahead, keep a running list of things you’re grateful for. This is easy in some ways, but we invite you to go a bit deeper by trying the following: 

  • Include things you don’t typically notice. What gifts are being offered to you that you haven’t stopped to appreciate? 
  • And include some things that aren’t as obvious. What can I be grateful for with the gift of hindsight? What opportunity or insight am I grateful for that emerged from challenge or hardship? 

Deepening Resource

In the summer of 2020, we partnered with award-winning photographer and filmmaker Doug Menuez to listen to people’s stories of gratefulness, resulting in our Grateful Voices series. As you begin to think about what gratefulness means to you, James’s story offers inspiration and wisdom.