I just saw the new movie “Gravity” in 3D! And I am still vibrating! Sandra Bullock plays an astronaut on a space station performing some routine repair tasks when debris smashes into the vessel and casts her adrift into space. And when I use the word “smash,” I mean it. Wearing the 3D glasses made me feel as if I were in the collision myself. Splintering fragments of wreckage seemingly zooming toward my face had me weaving and bobbing in my seat. One frantic moment has the main character attempting to survive yet another in a series of catastrophes and muttering the statement that no one ever taught her how to pray. Toward the end of the film, after having survived innumerable mishaps and near death she glances up to the sky and says the words, “thank you.”
It’s a beautiful moment reminding me of a quote by Meister Eckhart, who wrote, “If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough.” This Sunday Jesus tells a parable about a persistent widow who is unrelenting in her desire for a just legal decision from an indifferent judge. The application of the parable is to be found in understanding how tenacity in prayer will be rewarded. However, I cannot help but wonder if Eckhart is not alluding to another layer of depth in his statement. What if the greatest prayer is gratitude? If God knows our needs better than we ourselves and if our life experiences have the potential of enhancing our awareness, what if “thank you” offered consistently in prayer is the key that unlocks the doorway to understanding?
It’s a tall order: untiring gratitude. To be thankful for the entire journey even those elements we dread. Is it possible that we are meant to understand that everything that happens has the potential of broadening our compassion and our understanding? What if the most humbling circumstance enables us to finally become generous, tolerant or kind? If in the midst of disease, bankruptcy or some other horror we finally encounter the living God – is that not a reason to be appreciative? And when words seem inadequate to express the enormity of our feelings, just say thank you – that would appear to sum it all up.“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for everything that comes to you, and give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” Ralph Waldo Emerson~