The title of this post means free. Interesting since we use the same word as the root for gratitude which means thanks.
Gratis is also the root in the word ‘grace.’ What is grace? Webster’s defines it as ‘unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification.’ Grace is the presence of the Divine in your life. The presence of the Divine in all things. Grace is something one can ask for but it must be granted. One can strive for it but when one pursues something too earnestly, it tends to be elusive. Particularly if one’s intentions are not pure. I am open to grace and I welcome grace into my life when it comes. I ask for grace to befall those who seem to need it in tough times or in times of lack. None of this means that grace is granted, nor do I expect it to be granted. I do not seek to see if it is granted either. This is the wonder and beauty of prayer and blessing. You ask and give them but do not attach to the outcome of the prayer. Does it work? Do not know. I am not part of the outcome. I only know that I feel great peace when I perceive a state of grace in my life or when I pray for grace for others. I am grateful for this experience and always have been. Much as I am grateful for all the blessings in my life.
This is the time of year to be thankful/grateful, or so they tell us. Historically (there is far more history than there is the present by the way), Autumn is a time for being thankful to the Earth (God) for the bounty of harvest. Harvest allowed us to survive the winter in times when we could not go to the corner to pick up a candy bar at 2am. Our ancestors were lucky to survive a winter in the American Northeast or in Europe. Lucky to survive. Rolling dice or cutting cards to determine who lives and who dies. Try living each day for months with that onus hanging over your head. Add to that the thought that your family may not live through the winter and you have to care for them in the hope that they live (and you do not die in the process of sacrificing your life energy to keep them alive). If you have ever, even for a moment, sacrificed anything so your family can have something they need, you have a glimpse of what our ancestors went through each year of their lives.
Technology has changed this lifestyle for most of us although there are still many who wonder where their next meal will come from or if they will survive a freezing night. Not to make light of their plight, but our ancestors worked the land, built their houses with their own hands, and made their own food. Many of those who go without these days do not work and are not motivated to do so. Many are suffering from mental illness and many are victims of severe hardship but a large number do not recover. There were indigents in colonial times but they were cared for by the community or imprisoned (not much changes does it). When we look at where we have been and what our ancestors were grateful for, one wonders what we have to be grateful for in these times.
John Bradford is quoted as saying “there but for the grace of God goes John Bradford” when he watched other prisoners being dragged to their deaths. We have survived this phrase as ‘there but for the grace of God go I.’ Meaning that anything can happen to any of us and it is a prayer thanking God for the grace that keeps us safe. Be thankful for the obvious things, family, friends, food and shelter whether you have them in abundance or scarcity. Be thankful for those things you may take for granted like breathing, walking, the ability to get yourself to the bathroom or kitchen. Also be thankful for things that are not so obvious…
I am thankful for holding not only my children for the first time, but every time since. I am thankful for holding my wife’s hand the first time and every time since. I am grateful for waking early and watching the fiery sun blaze it’s presence on the Earth each and every time it happens. I am grateful when I hear a song that strikes the right chords in my chest every time I hear it. I am grateful for meeting new souls and discovering their obvious and hidden beauty. I am grateful for the meditative energy I get when I create dishes. Baking, broiling, grilling or even making a salad are all energizing experiences for me. I am grateful for being able to run and enjoy it. I am grateful for being able to swim and enjoy it. I am grateful for my relationship with the Divine. Gratis is free, freedom is gratis.
Gratis to you and gratis for you. I love you and I am grateful for you too.