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Every once in awhile we read a book which engages our mind in thinking of others who might enjoy it.  ‘Grateful’ by Diana Butler Bass is one of those books for me. 

I initially purchased the little book (less than 200 pages) for stewardship purposes within my own parishes and the work of the Diocesan Stewardship Committee.  The material certainly lends itself to those ministries, but I enjoyed Diana’s personal accounts of feeling grateful, or lacking those feelings.  What does it mean if we do not feel grateful? I also value her understanding of a Grateful Society, and I thought others would as well.

St. George’s Book Club was born!  We met over zoom on Saturday mornings in February.  February is often a month people feel a little down and the pandemic isolation has heightened those feelings for some of us.

Diana formatted ‘Grateful’ into four parts with two chapters in each part.  Seemed like a suitable structure to follow.  She discusses an individual’s Emotions and Ethics associated with Gratefulness in the first two parts.  The third and fourth parts look at Emotions and Ethics for a culture, a society.  Diana wraps up her work with an Epilogue entitled ‘A Call to the Grateful Way’ which I find delightful! 

The following are the words of three of the participants in the Book Club.  I thank Mary Chance, Annette Procunier, and Eleanor Smith for sharing their thoughts about ‘Grateful’ and our time together with others as a Book Club on wintry Saturday mornings.  We hope and pray that you might find their experiences both meaningful and inspiration to read ‘Grateful’ and see what you find for yourself! 

The importance of Gratitude is how it affects positive thinking which in turn affects happiness and health.  I was very fortunate to have joined a small group led by our rector.  All were very friendly, caring people. We all need people in our lives.  I feel a little of each person we meet rubs off on us. 

This book made me even more aware that being grateful starts small, but saying ‘Thank you’, leads in a larger way to affecting many people.  The pandemic has had a great effect on people.  It has slowed us down and given us time to think of prayer and others by caring for and helping others, showing us that giving brings such joy.  We thank God that we are given families and friends.  Thank you Kim for this opportunity to gather.

In February we zoomed through the month meeting Saturday mornings for an hour of reflection, learning, and fellowship to study the book “Grateful” by Diana Butler Bass.  I was not familiar with her work, but after reading this can understand her appeal to people looking to explore our culture, faith and humanity in these challenging times.  Her work is easy to read and thought provoking. 

Besides the pleasure of reading a new book, the experience of learning from others was most uplifting.  We were a divergent group of people seeking to understand ourselves and others better, and the book brought us together to share our experiences.  I look forward to an opportunity to do this again, and to add more people to the discussion and explore another book.  It will be fun!

Thank you for the opportunity to be part of the Zoom book club. It was a good experience and just the right length. Reading the book connected me to three other books which I have since revisited. I had read One Thousand Gifts, which was a book on seeing the joy in the simple things in life and being grateful. The premise of Ann Voskamp's book was based on the word "eucharisteo", thanksgiving.  It was perhaps a more simplistic book, told from the standpoint of a mother raising her family on a farm. I have since reread the book the Power of Habit, which Butler Bass had referred to in her opening chapters, and of course I was ecstatic to be reunited with Letters from Prison, which I had owned for so long but given up when we had to downsize for our move to Goderich Place.

I found the book ‘Grateful’ made me aware of the many times a day I express gratefulness or feel grateful. It was not that my husband and I do not live a life of gratefulness, but rather that we tended not to be aware of those feelings. Gratefulness can be felt when we see beauty in a flower or have a phone call from a family member or enjoy a meal. As she points out, it is not the material things for which we are grateful.  

Living as we have these past two years, often in isolation in our retirement home, we have had to look for gratefulness within our four walls. We are more aware of the staff here, who have worked hard to tend to us during lockdowns. As Butler Bass reminds us, gratitude is also how we receive gifts.

Her book is timely, written when we see such divisiveness locally and worldwide, reminding us that patriotism can mutate into nationalism, which is about dominance.  I especially liked her Epilogue where she differentiates between the prepositions "in" and "for". "In everything give thanks."  It was a great experience to share the book through Zoom with others.

Enjoy ‘Grateful’ on your own or with others as we have done at St. George’s, Goderich & Christ Church, Port Albert. 

I continue to feel amazed when God’s wisdom is revealed through simple aspects of daily life such as giving thanks, appreciating what has been given to us on any given day.  Feeling grateful enhances our well-being as individuals and as a society.  Giving thanks is fundamental to our faith and our sacramental understanding of how God works. As Diana Butler Bass and her readers have discovered, God knows what we need.  Gratefulness is one of those things!

Ven. Kim Van Allen & a few members of our Book Club, on behalf of the Diocesan Stewardship Committee