Earlier today, I was listening to an episode of the podcast “Becoming a Healing Presence” with Dr. Albert Rossi on Ancient Faith Radio. The podcast was titled “Grief”, and consisted of an interview with an Orthodox Seminarian from Uganda. The entire interview was very interesting, and discussed the differences in the cultural experiences of grief and mourning in Uganda and the United States.

What caught my attention most, however, was not something this young man said about grief or death. It was the way he began the interview:

“I thank God for this moment.”

What a profound statement.

We hear a lot about affirmations and meditations and mantra in today’s mainstream culture. As Orthodox Christians, we speak a lot about the prayer of the heart, the constant repetition of the Jesus Prayer. While noetic prayer is the ultimate prayer practice, for those of us just beginning to pray or struggling to pray or still unsure of how to pray, a simple statement of gratitude to God for the present moment is a powerful reminder to us.

I thank God for this moment:

I do not allow myself to wallow in shame over the past and its sins.

I do not allow myself to be robbed of this singular moment with fears about the future.

In moments of great joy, I approach this triumph with the realization that God willed this amazing opportunity for us.

In moments of great sorrow, I praise God who still reigns, who will redeem even the most bitter suffering.

In moments of monotony and ordinariness, I remember that God grants me each and every breath, and not to take even the most tedious aspects of my life for granted.

I thank God for another moment to repent, to pray, and to seek His will.

Thank you, God, for this moment, whether great or small, whether I find it in exuberance or desperation, for I believe everything is sent by you for my salvation. Perhaps with a grateful, meek, and humble heart, one day I will understand exactly what this means.