Maintaining An Attitude of Gratitude - Day Two

For the rest of this week, the Daily Devos will be centered around what it takes to maintain an attitude of gratitude each and every day.  Spoiler Alert:  It's not as easy as it seems!  

In the ancient Japanse art of Aikido, there is a unique way of describing someone who is able to keep from overreacting to a sudden, unexpected outside stimulus.  In Aikido you would say of such a person that they have "soft eyes."  

In other words, they have a wider field of vision that isn't hardened and narrowed.  They are able to see what is on the periphery and are not just reacting to what is immediately in front of them.  

Author and theologian Parker J. Palmer describes it like this:  
If a stimulus is introduced to an unprepared person, his eyes narrow and the flight/fight response takes over.  If the same unexpected stimulus comes to someone with "soft eyes," the natural reflex is transcended and a more authentic response takes its place--such as thinking a new thought. 
I feel like far too much of my life is spent with a narrowed field of vision.  When my present is consumed with challenges, when I am faced with trials and tribulations... more often than not, I narrow my vision and can't seem to see what else is going on around me.  

And this makes it extremely difficult to maintain an attitude of gratitude.  

Diana Butler Bass writes, "Sometimes gratitude hides at the edges of our experience."  

This resonates with me so much today.  If I could just widen my gaze just a bit, I might be able to have a bigger view of things, to think a new thought or two, to find peace in the knowledge that there is more going on than I may have first perceived.  

And to feel grateful for all of it.  

Jesus once told his followers: 
22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! - Matthew 6:22
Essentially what Jesus was saying was, "If you have 'soft eyes' to view the world--your whole body will be filled with God's light.  But if you narrow your vision, you'll limit that light and it will affect every part of your life."  

May you look out on the world today with "soft eyes."  May you see a wider view of what God is doing in you, through you and all around you.  And may it fill you with gratitude and joy.  

May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.  


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