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On Practicing Gratitude

Francisco Burgos, Pendle Hill's Executive Director

Francisco Burgos, Pendle Hill’s Executive Director

November 22, 2021

A few weeks ago, I asked a group of Friends to ponder the question: How do I/we practice gratitude? The sharing that followed was very rich and provocative as we explored gratitude beyond its common conceptual framework, considering its multiple implications.

In today’s world, we easily get trapped in habitual rhythms that prevent us from embracing practices that support us in being more present to ourselves and to one another. Gratitude is one of those practices that is easily forgotten or adopted as a mere formalism. Living gratitude as a practice is one of those simple steps that contribute to our wellbeing, helping us to find meaning as we walk our life journey. The daily task of naming or recognizing three reasons for which to be grateful brings awareness of goodness and beauty. At the same time, this simple exercise can reveal other situations that are in need of loving care. This intersectional experience of thankfulness amid beauty and the need-for-transformation is what I call a liminal dance potential: a special moment in which we can start embracing the paradoxes in our lives with a sense of humility, curiosity, wonder, and intention.

Stay with me on this. Let us visualize practicing gratitude as a well-crafted testimony of our intentions and aspirations. This is something that can have a strong impact on our individual selves as well as in our society. On a personal level, for example, when we are grateful for the gifts that others have given or shared with us, we create space for better relationships based on mutual support and care. This is also an opportunity for confronting our limitations and for setting the stage for change.

At the societal level, when we practice gratitude, we acknowledge not only the common good within our actions but also the many barriers to realizing a just and loving society. Let me be practical. We cannot be truly grateful for the many contributions made by the immigrant community if we ignore the discrimination and injustices that this community faces.

In both scenarios, personal and communal, gratitude must move us to examine, celebrate, and transform ourselves. I invite you to connect with the inward force that sustains us and to manifest it outwardly by practicing gratitude. This is a courageous act in which we challenge ourselves to creatively explore our life experiences in the company of others.

With heartfelt appreciation,


Francisco Burgos
Executive Director