So What’s With All the Gratuitous Gratitude?

Back in March of this year I was struck by an off hand comment a classmate made during a History of Christian Spirituality discussion.  She said that James Martin SJ tweets his daily examen.  I was fascinated by this idea.  Why would someone tweet something so private and personal as his daily examen?

If you don’t know about Twitter, here’s a description from the book Click 2 Save:  “Twitter is a micro-blogging platform, with every post limited to 140 characters, including spaces between words.  Like blog posts, tweets tell a story in real time through short bursts of commentary and information.  Likewise, the aggregation of tweets over time tells a more extended story.”

Something about the combination of the fleeting nature, the 140 character constraint, and the completely open forum of Twitter called to me spiritually.  I thought about the impact Martin would have with his huge following by showing this deeply personal piece of himself in a really tight capsule.  (Turns out he doesn’t tweet his examen right now but that is beside the point.)  What could I do with the limited exposure I have on the web to highlight the notion that God lives and moves in this world, my world?

An entire examen every day was way too much for me to tweet. Yet, I believe that God moves in my life all the time, all I have to do is slow down enough to recognize it.  In prayer, the notion of a gratitude a day began to evolve. Now the project has 4 requirements:

  • it needs to be about me personally (I can’t tell another’s story for them),
  • it needs to be on Twitter (public for anyone who wants to read it),
  • it needs to be something specific (a particular thing that was important to me on that particular day),
  • and the whole project should look like an ordinary life (because that it what it is… just my ordinary every day life).


This project has already given me a wonderful new way of viewing my day.  I am constantly aware of the little things that I am grateful for during my day.  I smile a bit more often now.  Yet, there is another fruit of this labor.  Somehow through this very specific, very constrained medium of Twitter, my life with God is getting recorded for others to witness.  

That boggles my mind!  While I was brought up to be a witness to the gospel, I never imagined it looking this way.  I don’t try to convert anyone, I just share the little things I am grateful for in my day.  I don’t believe this gives a full view of the gospel, my life, or Christianity.  Hardly.  Just a tiny peek into an ordinary life in our ordinary world with an extraordinary God.  

What are you grateful for?


4 thoughts on “So What’s With All the Gratuitous Gratitude?

  1. Anne F.

    Chrysty, I see your gratitude tweets go by on Facebook. (I don’t do Twitter.) Although, I don’t usually post my daily gratitudes electronically, your practice enticed me back into an evening Examen. I especially experience moments of gratitude on my walks/hikes.Gratitude is such a powerful virtue. It seems to be held in esteem in many sacred practices…a sign that it truly is of God, perhaps? Here’s a link to a blog post by Leo Babauta in the Zen Buddhist tradition. The connections between yours and his struck me.

    1. Chrysty Hendrick

      Thank you, Anne! I am encouraged that you have found value for your own walk (spiritual and physical ;-)) through this practice. I love the idea of finding three good things to share with my spouse every night from your link above. That could give me a way to share more personal gratitudes I would not put into the public space. Thanks!

  2. John Forman

    Love this, Chrysty! One of my dearest teachers, Br. David Steindl-Rast, has written beautifully about gratitude as a spiritual practice. He says that you can’t make yourself happy, but you can make yourself grateful. I have found this to be, just as you say, "a tiny peek into an ordinary life in our ordinary world with an extraordinary God"! If you want to know more about Br. David, his website is

    1. Chrysty Hendrick

      Thank you, John. What a rich and deep site! I look forward to delving more deeply into it after our immersion experience of this week ends. 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s