Gratitude and Blue Cars

Have you had the experience of learning a new word or having a new understanding of a concept, and suddenly it appears everywhere, all around you? That’s what has happened to me as we’ve begun to use the word “gratitude” as an anchor for our stewardship focus. 

Just last week New York Times columnist David Brooks wrote a great piece entitled, “The Structure of Gratitude.”  I recommend this article.  Brooks writes about gratitude being a starting point and the “social glue” for society.   My favorite quote from his article:

“Gratitude is a sort of laughter of the heart that comes about after some surprising kindness.”  This fits nicely with Henri Nouwen’s gratitude quote: “ …..gratitude is the explicit effort to acknowledge that all I am and have is given to me as a gift of love, a gift to be celebrated with joy.”

After attending Indiana University’s Lake Institute classes and working toward certification in religious fundraising, I felt the name “Simply Stewardship” didn’t fully express my understanding of our call to be generous and grateful. So, 2005”s “Simply Stewardship” evolved into a new and expanded program named “Grace, Generosity and Gratitude”. Congregations I’ve worked with since have embraced this new name and found many additional ways of connecting congregational members to mission and ministry within their churches.  Being grateful and showing gratitude is the key to our work.

Oh – about the blue cars. You buy one and suddenly you see them everywhere. Stanford linguistics professor Arnold Zwicky coined the “blue car” term in 2006 to describe a syndrome in which a concept or thing you just found out about suddenly seems to crop up everywhere.  That’s gratitude.