Beyond Gratitude

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This week the theme of gratitude builds to a crescendo,

culminating for most of us this Thursday (before quickly devolving into Black Friday discontent). As my thoughts have turned towards what I’m grateful for, I’ve been challenged and inspired by the work and words of Robin Wall Kimmerer, whose book Braiding Sweetgrass I have been reading and reflecting on over the past month. For those unfamiliar, Kimmerer is a Potawatomi botanist who invites us to see and participate in our world through the eyes of our Indigenous sisters and brothers.

My words would be woefully insufficient to capture the beauty and power of her book, but a few thoughts stand out:

“Appreciation begets abundance.”

“Gratitude creates a sense of abundance, the knowing that you have what you need. In that climate of sufficiency, our hunger for more abates and we take only what we need, in respect for the generosity of the giver. If our first response is gratitude, then our second is reciprocity: to give a gift in return.”

“We are called to go beyond cultures of gratitude, to once again become cultures of reciprocity.”

“All flourishing is mutual.”

As we partner with churches and neighbors in the work of placemaking, this all rings true.

When a church opens its doors to its community in new ways…

when new partnerships are forged…

when we come to understand that this work is about far more than what we can give (or receive)…

these steps must be rooted in gratitude for the abundance of goodness surrounding us and within us.

Yet gratitude alone will not cultivate flourishing.

For this to happen, our gratitude must move us to reciprocity —
this understanding that we are all neighbors,
none of us in a position to simply give or receive
but rather each stewarding good gifts we can offer others
and also each needing of others the good gifts they can offer us.


This, friends, is not a process but a cycle, as our mutual flourishing begets even greater abundance, which heightens our gratitude, and on and on it goes.

As we experience feelings of gratitude this week (and hopefully beyond!), may we be moved to reciprocity and discover the delight of mutual flourishing.

Grateful for you,