Shuck and Jive

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Gratitude: A Choice

I wrote this for the November Beaverton Resource Guide.

This quote comes from thirteenth century mystic, Meister Eckhart: “If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.”

I admit, I do not always feel grateful. If I were forced to keep track, I may find that I pray the “help me” prayer more than the “thank you” prayer (that is when I pray at all). That is a lot to admit but why not be honest? These are interesting times. The last thing any of us might feel is gratitude when our lives have been turned upside-down and our future is uncertain.

Here is the catch. Gratitude is not an emotion. Gratitude is a choice. Gratitude is a discipline. Gratitude is a habit. That is why parents instruct their children in the art of “please and thank you.” Get in the practice and one day it will become second nature.

The cynic in us might respond: What about the injustices and the suffering, mine and others? Do we just be grateful and ignore that? What is the benefit?

Here is the bottom line. Gratitude is about survival. We won’t be able to do anything about injustice and suffering if we do not take a daily inventory of what is positive in our lives. As we make the choice to practice gratitude we will discover that we have many items in our personal inventory to help us face our challenges.

Meister Eckhart knew what he was talking about. Make the choice to be grateful every day and list the specifics. You will discover that it is enough. You have everything you need.

~ John Shuck

John Shuck is an ordained Presbyterian minister having served four congregations since 1992. Learn more at

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