I think the life of faith hinges on gratitude. I’ve been slowly reading Lewis Hyde’s “The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World.” One of the points Hyde makes, drawing from anthropology, mythology, and fairy tales, is that a gift hasn’t been fully received until it has been given away again. There is a middle passage, though, between when a gift has first been given and when it has been re-gifted, that Hyde calls “the labor of gratitude.” The labor of gratitude effects a transformation of the soul. Those who can’t acknowledge gratitude or “refuse to labor in its service” can’t free their gifts or even “really come to possess them.” Doesn’t it seem like discipleship can be framed as the “labor of gratitude”? If all of life is a gift—the world and everything in it, our very breath—and if Jesus is the ultimate gift, then discipleship is the process of recognizing those gifts, accepting them with gratitude, and following Jesus’s lead by allowing my life to be shaped into a gift to my neighbors, to the world, and back to God.
I’m thinking out loud here.
By the way, if you’re a writer or artist, you need to read “The Gift.” David Foster Wallace said that, “No one who is invested in any kind of art can read ‘The Gift’ and remain unchanged.” I can vouch for this.