Cairn #7: An Altar of Gratitude

The cairn as a sacred space
in which to be thankful.

“Gratitude makes sense of our past,
brings peace for today,
and creates a vision for tomorrow.”
– Melody Beattie

“The more grateful I am, the more beauty I see.”
– Mary Davis

Years ago, our dear cousin and friend Sharon died suddenly in her sleep at the age of 21. After months of shock and grief – for myself and for all who loved her – I began journaling my thoughts about life and God. One day I wrote, “When Sharon’s death seems unfair to me, I have to think how much more unfair it would be to have never known her.”

This was a healing moment in my grief, but also a turning point for my perspective on life. I was learning to seek the gifts that remain after loss, to experience gratitude even in heartache.

We are fully aware that this has been a difficult year. Today’s stone serves as an invitation for us to choose gratitude, to change our perspective if needed, and to begin regarding this unusual year with new awareness and appreciation. Some of the gifts of this year may be apparent right away. Some may be less obvious and will require us to actively seek and reflect. Some gifts may be not be revealed until later in life, when we see ways in which this time became the beginning of something new and good.

Here are some hidden blessing questions we might ask.

Have we learned anything new about our character through these challenging times?
What are some lessons we have learned?
Where have we noticed God’s comfort, wisdom, or peace in our lives?
Has our anxious uncertainty drawn us closer to our strong and sure God?
Have we been given new opportunities to help one another?
How do we remember with gratitude what we may have lost?
How will their gifts remain with us and continue to bless us?
Will any changes in our way of life possibly make a difference for good?
What simple blessings still abound but simply remain unnoticed?
Does the fragility of life enable us to appreciate life more?
Who has been a special blessing to us recently?
How do we see God shaping us into better people?
How might we choose to improve our way of living and being, because of and through these times?

Today, may we find gratitude for what is. May we be fully present to the moment, to one another, and to God. May we tap into our joy from within when we cannot find it elsewhere. Gifts are all around us, just waiting to be discovered. Our gratitude will bless God, while also fostering our own deeper peace and joy.

God is always good.

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and all that is within me,
    bless his holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and do not forget all his benefits—
who forgives all your iniquity,
    who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the Pit,
    who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good as long as you live
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Psalm 103:1-5 (NRSV)

(As you place your stone, consider these words) “I place this stone as a symbol of my gratitude especially for these blessings…”

God of gracious abundance,

Your mercies and blessings are all around me, but I do not always notice them. Your peace and hope are within me, but I do not always sense them.
Your ways are perfect and good, but I do not always embrace them. Forgive me when I am unaware or unappreciative of the gifts that you generously provide. Fill my heart with thankfulness, and show me ways in which I may serve others with gratitude and joy. Amen.

Next week’s cairn theme will be A Beautiful Placement.

Photo by Mathieu Turle on Unsplash

2 Comments on “Cairn #7: An Altar of Gratitude

  1. This was lovely and also sad. I can’t imagine a 21 year old going to sleep and not waking up! That does not happen to one so young. You turned a corner when you changed focus and God then turns “ mourning into dancing!” My peace comes within and my gratitude for what l had, my gratitude for what l have now is such a huge part of my peace! As l Zoom over to Prineville and meet with old friends l am so grateful for the 12 years living there where our life was centered around the church and our church family, l worked for pastor Barbara.
    Was active in WELCA and Bob was on two committees and we both were fulfilled and grateful! Those memories sustain me now!
    My grateful Cairn will have to be very special!
    Blessings to you and Jim❣️❣️🙏🙏🙏💕💖😇


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