Practising gratitude

Grafeful-butler-BassGrateful 

by Diana Butler Bass (Harper One 2018)

Rob Roi

Most of us claim feeling gratitude on a regular basis, but those private feelings seem disconnected from larger concerns in our public lives. 

In Grateful, cultural observer and theologian Diana Butler Bass takes on this “gratitude gap” and offers up surprising, relevant and powerful insights to practice gratitude. 

With honest stories and heartrending examples from history and her own life, Diana reclaims gratitude as a path to greater connection with God, with others, with the world and even with our own souls. Diana has learned that gratitude is a central theme in the Bible, and that it is also central to all great ethical systems and religions. 

She points out that to be human is to rely on others, and that all of us are dependent every day upon general gifts such as the food we receive from the farmers who grow and market it. She quotes poet Marge Piercy, “Life is the first gift, love is the second and understanding the third”. 

The first gift is life – my life, your life. That is the gift, she writes, no other gift is possible without it. Gratitude is not about stuff – gratitude is the emotional response to the surprise of our very existence.

At the beginning of her epilogue she quotes the thirteenth century Persian poet Rumi, “Gratitude is the wine for the soul. Go on. Get drunk!”.


The Reverend Rob Roi is a parish deacon at St. James’ Dundas.