Conversations About Gratitude

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This year's annual Stewardship campaign will occur in October as usual, but as a "prelude" to Stewardship season the members of the Stewardship Committee, led by Junior Warden for Stewardship Chris Rigos, invite all to participate in a five-week conversation about gratitude.
Each week, a broad question to stimulate mindfulness of and reflection on gratitude will be posted. In his letter to the Thessalonians, Paul writes: “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus towards you.” —let's explore this mindset together. The Stewardship Committee believes that a heightened awareness is the best way to thoughtfully begin our formal stewardship season in October. Everyone in the community is invited to write replies to each week's prompt.
The members of the Stewardship Committee—Greg Simon, Amanda Davis, Wayne Duncan, Deborah Person, Canon Eliacín Rosario-Cruz, and Junior Warden for Stewardship Chris Rigos—are looking forward to these conversations, and thank you for your willingness to be part of this exercise. If you have any questions, please write Chris Rigos at:


For the last several weeks, the Stewardship Ministry has invited everyone to reflect on what gratitude or thankfulness means to you and how you experience it. We talked about how you express gratitude to yourself or others, and how you nurture that sense of wellbeing and goodwill. These abstract conversations are almost over, and we now focus hearts and minds on the here and now—Saint Mark’s formal Stewardship campaign for the year 2023 will begin on Sunday, October 2. Soon you will receive a package of Stewardship materials in the mail, and you will hear reflections from parishioners in person and on video throughout the month of October.

So, our final question involves how your developing sense of gratitude applies to this beloved spiritual home, Saint Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral. For what are you grateful, here at Saint Mark’s? Do you experience that feeling towards the clergy, staff, preaching, liturgy, or music? Ministries of restorative justice, creation care, or intergenerational connections? The sense of community, or particular community members? Perhaps it is the core beliefs and ethos of this place. If you have been attending Saint Mark's for some time, have these feeling changed over time? Remember: “wherever you are on your spiritual journey, you are welcome here.”

As we launch into our formal Stewardship campaign, continue to reflect on the ideas shared here. As we bring this series to a close, we thank you for your thoughts and prayers, and we end with our final question: Where are you on your gratitude journey with Saint Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral?

Please offer a response of any length in the comments at the bottom of this page, or send an email to (Note that the first time you leave a comment, it will be held in moderation before appearing.) Thank you for participating in this conversation.


Every week the presenting clergy member at Saint Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral invites us by saying: “Wherever you are on your spiritual journey, you are welcome here.” On Sunday, September 11, Dean Steve Thomason continued this blessing by asking us in his sermon on Sunday morning: “Where are you on your spiritual journey?”

1 Corinthians 13:11 reminds us that we are born with a developing sense of self, our world, and our place in that world. When we become adults, we “put an end to childish ways.” The same observation may apply to our developing sense of gratitude or thankfulness. In our youth, perhaps we are grateful in a purely transactional way—for an unexpected gift, a fine report card, or a dream job. Sometimes our praise and prayers of gratitude are only for the “positive” or “pleasant” things, and we nurture, perhaps unconsciously, the belief that our prayers are being answered because of our “good” behavior.

So, where are you on your spiritual journey with gratitude? Are you prayerful for the events that benefit your life and family? Are you able to give thanks for positive things that happen to others but not to you? Are justice advances in far-off places part of your gratitude list, or progress in protecting our endangered creation, or nourishing meals provided to those who are experiencing hunger?

Where are you on your spiritual journey with gratitude?


The Saint Mark’s Stewardship Committee continues its five-part Gratitude Conversations with a question from community member Greg Simon:

In my day job, I reply to a lot of emails—200 or more most weeks.  I’ve noticed that nearly every one of my responses begins with “Thanks.”  And I really do mean that.  Setting aside all of the marketing spam, the messages I respond to really do deserve my gratitude.  Often, someone is telling me something that I need or want to know.  Or someone is telling me they’ve finished doing something that I asked for or just hoped for.

I did have the thought that I could just automate the first word of every email response.  It would be simple to have every reply start with “Thanks.”  In my email software, that’s under “Options>Mail>Replies and Forwards>Preface Comments With”.  Starting every reply with an automated “Thanks” would look exactly the same to the person receiving my message.  But it wouldn’t be the same for me. And gratitude really isn’t a transaction.  While it is important for people I correspond with to feel thanked, it’s much more important for me to feel thankful.

So I still type out those letters T-H-A-N-K-S every time.  Those six keystrokes add a few seconds for me to feel gratitude and consider what I’m grateful for.  I hope my gratitude will grow to be ever-present – but never automatic.

What things do you do every day to cultivate gratitude?  How do you make gratitude ever-present but not automatic?


The Saint Mark’s Stewardship Committee continues its five-part Gratitude Conversations with a focus how we experience gratitude and what we do with that experience.

Franciscan Father Richard Rohr talked in May 2020 about our need for a new vision when he wrote:

G. K. Chesterton spoke of the “mystical minimum” which he defined as gratitude. When we stand in the immense abundance of the True Self, there is no time or space for being hurt. We are always secure, at rest, and foundationally grateful. The grateful response for what is given—seeing the cup half full—requires seeing with a completely different set of eyes than the eyes that always see the cup as half empty. I don’t think it is an oversimplification to say that people basically live either in an overall attitude of gratitude or an overall attitude of resentment. The mystical minimum is gratitude. Everything that is given—that we are breathing today—is pure gift. None of us have earned it. None of us have a right to it. All we can do is kneel and kiss the ground—somewhere, anywhere, everywhere.

Several questions immediately rush into our consciousness. Does Rohr’s view or that of G.K. Chesterton resonate with you? How does a sense of thankfulness come upon you? Does it come to you slowly and quietly, or with a burst of speed, clarity, and whistles and bells?

What you do when gratitude fills your heart, mind, or soul? Do you rest quietly, “kiss the ground,” or rush to “go tell it on the mountain?”


The Saint Mark’s Stewardship Committee continues its five-part Gratitude Conversations with a focus on the broad importance of gratitude and its meaning to each of us.

In his 1984 book Gratefulness, the Heart of Prayer: An Approach to Life in Fullness, Brother David Steindl-Rast writes: “All prayer is essentially an act of gratitude. Even the prayer of petition that boils up from some agonizing personal need includes, if it is authentic, a stated belief that ‘God’s will be done’—an expression of our utter dependence on God’s mercy.” Another author states that “gratitude is the ultimate spiritual practice.”

But what is gratitude? The Merriam-Webster Dictionary offers a definition for gratitude as a strong feeling of appreciation to someone or something for what the person has done to help you.” Researchers writing in a 2019 article published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology propose that “gratitude stems from the recognition that something good happened to you, accompanied by an appraisal that someone, whether another individual or an impersonal source, such as nature or a divine entity, was responsible for it.”

So, what does gratitude mean to you? How it is different in different contexts?

3 Responses

  1. Kathy Albert
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    Gratitude is basic to my prayer life. From the first glimpses at the dawning day to the last moments before going to sleep, expressing thanks pervades what I say to God when I pray. It just comes naturally, not because I am an extraordinary pray-er, but because honestly turning our attention towards God will effortlessly draw this joyful response out of us humans. How could we look towards our Good {God}, Who is the ultimate Love of our lives, and NOT be filled with gratitude?

  2. Kathy Albert
    | Reply

    Experience is my favorite spiritual topic to talk about! Much loved Richard Rohr has also said that we must go with our inner experience as our ultimate guide before all else. So lucky me! I get to share some of that here! 🙂

    Thankfulness comes to me in different ways, depending upon the context of my experience. If what I’m grateful for is a relatively small experience, – like the stevia-sweetened watermelon soy yogurt that I just snacked on! – then I quietly savor the thankfulness. 🙂 But if I’m grateful for a positive life-changing event that just occurred – like voting to go on strike with my 5,999 colleagues across the Seattle School District next week so that students, families and educators can have school years that we can be proud of, I’ll usually shout! in one form or another. 🙂

    When gratitude fills my soul, I may: sing, write, tell what’s happened to most everyone I come across, dance, make phone calls, post a placard in my car window. And yes, there was a time in my late 20s when I kissed the ground! I was hiking in the San Bernardino Mountains of California and felt such joy and gratitude for the beauty of the valleys and mountain tops that lay before me! I bent down and kissed the dirt, consciously giving thanks and making a vow to stand for and defend our great Earth Mother. I have done so throughout my life. Acts of gratitude are very powerful!

  3. Kathy Albert
    | Reply

    I have a daily practice of going to my window first thing when I get out of bed, opening the blinds and looking out on the dawning day. I notice the sky, the clouds, the sun if it’s up, the mountains if I can see them, and the thanks just comes! There’s nothing like Creation’s Beauty to just draw spontaneous thanksgiving out of us!

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