Happy book launch day to the gratitude journal I helped create with Ancient Faith Publishing!
Enjoy these lines from the introduction to this beautiful journal…
Dear fellow travelers,
ONE EVENING a handful of years ago, deep in the throes of a spiritual desert, I found a notebook and decided to write down one thing I was grateful to God for arising from that day. It was the beginning of a daily ritual I came to call “thanks-writing”—giving thanks through brief, one- or two-sentence recollections each day. The practice has become a way to cultivate gratitude toward God for all He has given me.
The offering of thanks stands at the heart of historical Christian spirituality and doxology. Even the Eucharist—the pinnacle of Christian fellowship and liturgy—derives from the Greek word
eucharistía, “thanksgiving.” Our worship, indeed our entire lives, is intended to be and become a continuous thank offering of ourselves back to our Father and Creator, who Himself has granted us all good things.
In gathering the quotes for this journal, I have been deeply challenged by the distinctiveness of Christian understandings of thanksgiving. Scripture and other writings of our tradition are unanimous (and insistent) that we give thanks for all things and at all times. What a departure this is from the call to gratitude we hear from pop culture and psychology, which so often instructs us to “focus on the positive” as a way to lessen the anxiety or dissatisfaction we feel toward whatever we have deemed in our lives to be “negative.” To give thanks for all things is a discipline, an ascesis—it involves intentionally recognizing the facets of our existence that are painful, frustrating, shameful, burdensome, or grievous so that we may learn to give thanks for them, since “all things are ordained by the Lord’s love” (St. Basil, Letter 101). It also requires we become aware of destructive tendencies like greed, pride, or mindless consumption, which are impediments to thanksgiving.
And so, throughout the pages of this journal we are enjoined to offer up thanks not only for moments of prosperity, abundance, beauty, or ease, but also for scarcity, sickness, bedrest, shipwrecks, old age, sadness, death, maltreatment, the recognition of our weaknesses, and a great many other perils that assault our lives yet have much to teach us by way of endurance, self-awareness, and compassion. Indeed, St. John Chrysostom at various times in his sermons goes so far as to assert that “it is our duty to give thanks even for hell itself” (cf. Homily 19 on Ephesians).
With this journal, we can embark on that path together. Each day of the year begins with a quotation from Scripture, the early Fathers, or another source from Christian tradition to remind us of both the beauty and significance and the difficult nature of giving thanks. Beneath each quotation is space to briefly record an item of thanksgiving for that day—a small space for each of three consecutive years. These few lines are meant to be manageable for folks unaccustomed to daily journaling, an exercise in concision for those who are. If you don’t know where to begin, use the phrase “Glory to You, O God, for . . .” as a sentence starter, or check the back of this book for prompts. The multi-year capacity of this journal provides an ongoing record of God’s small mercies in our lives that we are prone to forget with time.
Although the pages are dated beginning with January 1, there is no need to wait to begin. Just start with the current date and work through the year, then another year, then a third.
May we learn, day by day and year by year, the joy of St. Paul’s words to give thanks in all circumstances (I Thess. 5:18).
In Christ’s love,
Order the journal here.
Share in the journey on social media with the hashtag #ThanksWritingAFP