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Chaplain's Corner by Rev. Andrea Severson

Thanksgiving is around the corner, so gratitude is likely on your mind, and perhaps in your sermons, blogs or newsletters. It might be a little predictable, but I welcome any invitation to turn towards gratitude. After all, gratitude is good for us—body, mind and spirit. For one thing, it feels good. Have you ever paused to notice what happens in your body when you feel grateful? Take a minute to think about something in your life for which you are thankful and pay attention to how that gratitude shows up physically. Gratitude also has the power to change our brains. Bringing intention to noticing what we appreciate and feel grateful for trains our brain to more naturally notice what’s good in our lives or to notice positive aspects of challenging experiences. Regularly practicing gratitude can positively impact our mood and mental health. Spiritually, gratitude connects us to the Giver of all good gifts and invites us to see God at work all around us. Gratitude can be a key ingredient in finding joy, as it shifts our gaze from what we lack to the good already present.

I won’t try to call attention to all those things we might be thankful for, but I will invite a little notice of one thing that is often not included on a gratitude list: ourselves! We tend to look outside ourselves as we think of the big and small things we appreciate but rarely give space to the good that is inside us. So what do appreciate or feel grateful for in who you are? I admit that I didn’t know what to make of that question when it wand first offered to me. It might feel a little uncomfortable to ponder it. But we are God’s beloved children, those created in God’s own image, those gifted and called by God. Who are we to deny the wonders of God's handiwork? The truth is that all that good stuff is a reflection of the investment of God—and many others—in us throughout our lives. As we give space to appreciate those positive qualities in each of us, we might call to mind—with more gratitude—those who have seen the good in us, fostered our gifts or encouraged us along the way. And we might renew our call to share our gifts as we love and nurture those we encounter.

May you find joys in the blessings all around—and inside—you!

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