Gratitude is truly the secret of love. It opens our heart which makes us receptive to the many blessings of God that surround us daily. Expressing this gratitude in our lives takes it even a step further and fortunately, there is always something to be grateful for.
One of the most profound and enduring blessings from my spiritual teacher Del Hall has been his teaching and example on gratitude. I thought I knew what gratitude was and thought I was a grateful person, but I have learned there is so much more. “Gratitude is the secret of love,” and “Gratitude unexpressed is not gratitude,” are the words I have heard from him, but it has taken years for me to integrate this teaching into my daily life and into my heart.
So with that learning process continuing within me, I picked up the next chart in “random” order in the clinic where I work and went in to see the patient. She told me she had moved here recently but considered Texas her home. Then we discovered we had attended the same university there, she graduating in 2002 and I in 1973. I asked if she had taken any courses outside her major while there, and she replied that yes, she had taken some world literature classes that she really liked. I told her that while my major was biochemistry, my favorite professor there was in the English department, and I mentioned his name. Her eyes lit up immediately, and she said that he was also her favorite teacher.
“Have you been back for a visit?” she then asked. I replied, “no, I had not.” She said that she went back a couple of years ago and saw the professor walking across campus but was too shy to approach him to say thank you. I told her that she had inspired me to finally write a belated thank you from across the miles and decades that have passed since then, and I did just that, ending my note with that phrase from Del, “Gratitude unexpressed is not gratitude.” I did not expect a response, but when it came, my heart was filled with joy:
“Dear James, Your letter was very touching, and I am so happy you wrote it. I am getting close to retirement and sort of gathering my fondest memories. Teaching Ulysses back then is one of them — that first day, walking from my office to class, I kept thinking, if they only knew how much I don’t know. It gives me pause, too, makes me wonder if I thanked the two teachers in graduate school who meant the most to me… And I never had the chance to thank the guy I had in high school who was the most influential because it took several years to realize the effect he caused.”
So, with something as simple as a thank you note, the ripple effects from an expression of gratitude can reach out and touch souls across boundaries of time and space. I had included a sentence at the end of my thank you note, “Thank you for giving us a lifelong love of literature.” But I know that my real thank you goes to the Prophet of God for giving me the tools to open my heart to a real and living gratitude for the Eternal Teachings.
Occasionally we hear in casual conversation the phrase, “I would be eternally grateful if…” But by the Grace and Love of God, flowing through the Prophet, I am beginning to realize the true nature of eternal gratitude, helping me to live life daily with an attitude of gratitude. “Thank you, Prophet!”
Written by James Kinder