Posted May 11, 2003
Profound thoughts on the virtue of gratitude
Taken from: Seasons of Grace: The Life-Giving Practice of Gratitude
Authors: Alan Jones & John O'Neil with Diana Landau
John Wiley and Sons, Hoboken, NJ, pp. 253
Gratitude can transform even the harshest of "true" stories into authentic opportunities for wonder and growth.
Viktor Frankl, who was an inmate in Auschwitz during World War II, tells of a transforming moment as he was stumbling to work in the icy wind before dawn, one of the detachment of slaves driven by guards using rifle butts. Suddenly his wife entered his mind.
"Real or not, her look was then more luminous than the sun which was beginning to rise. A thought transfixed me: for the first time in my life I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers; that love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire. I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: the salvation of man is through love and in love. I understood how a man who has nothing left in the world may still know bliss . . . .In utter desolation, when man cannot express himself in positive action, when his only achievement may consist in enduring sufferings in the right way, man can achieve fulfillment. For the first time in myu life I was able to understand the meaning of the words, ‘The angels are lost in perpetual contemplation of an infinite glory.'"
How is it that a man like Viktor Frankl experiences gratitude in the most degrading of circumstances, while others more fortunate move blindly through life, ungrateful for the world's wonders? We can only conclude that the capacity for gratitude is innate. It lies within each of us, waiting only for acknowledgment to grant us its blessings.