The whole Westminster school community is in the middle year of a three-phase focus on being 'kind, grateful and useful'. In as many ways as possible, we are encouraging staff and students alike to recognise how much they have to be thankful for – loving families, supportive teachers and friends, the opportunity to learn and grow, and everyday acts of goodness that we each receive.
There is a new awareness of the benefits of gratitude in the fields of personal development and wellbeing. But for the Westminster community, highlighting gratitude is actually renewing what is a long-held tradition. Our heritage and foundations are through the Uniting Church, a branch of the Christian faith. And one of its fundamental tenets is recognition of blessings received and thankfulness to ‘God’. Thanksgiving is one of the basic expressions of prayer.
So where are we to find such gratitude? The suggested ways are to stop and pause, be mindful, and not just busily hurry through our days taking people, relationships and moments for granted. To focus not on what we don’t have, but all that we do have. The American theologian Joseph Sittler wrote of the occasional joyful realisation of ‘being'; that surprising inner cry of “Hey, I’m alive!”. This is the human beholding of grace; a deep gratitude that acknowledges whilst life isn’t always everything I had dreamed and planned for, it is, each day, a gift.
We should all be encouraged to be grateful for the food that nurtures us, the friends that help us, the beauty that inspires us, the love that surrounds us, and so much more. Including the gift of each waking day open before us.
Rev Phil Hoffmann