The Way of Gratitude
A New Spirituality for Today
A leading minister offers an inspiring guide to living a meaningful life by embracing the power of gratitude.
“Galen Guengerich’s wise and tender words about belonging, connection, and gratitudeare like keys to unlock our hearts, give us courage, and call us into the kind ofrelationships and community we are all longing for.”—Elizabeth Lesser, bestselling author of Broken Open
Galen Guengerich, the charismatic, brilliant leader of one of the nation’s most prominent Unitarian Universalist congregations, All Souls in New York City, shares with readers his wisdom on how to lead a purposeful and joyful life through the practice of gratitude. When Guengerich was in his midtwenties, he left the Conservative Mennonite Church, the faith of his upbringing. The prospect of venturing out on his own was daunting, but he needed to find the way of life that was right for him.
For Guengerich, transcendence is not limited to experiences of the divine; it can also be reached through gratitude’s ability to take us beyond ourselves and create connection to others and the universe. Through his personal story, poems that resonate with his spiritual message, and guided spiritual practice, including “gratitude goals,” this book helps readers discover how the way of gratitude can make them happier and healthier, and provide a new sense of belonging, not only to the universe as a whole but also to themselves.
Guengerich (God Revised), senior minister at the Unitarian Church of All Souls in New York, speaks to "spiritual but not religious" readers seeking meaning, joy, and transcendence, in this well-reasoned manifesto for a spirituality based on gratitude. The author draws on his experience he left the Conservative Mennonite Church in which he was raised as well as stories from his congregants in constructing a system of beliefs and practices based on prayer, personal relationships, and "shared human dignity" that move one beyond "what we need or want, maybe what we hope to get away with to the awareness that we are part of a larger whole." For Guengerich, "the longing for a comprehensive sense of meaning and a deep sense of purpose... remains unmet by secularism." To fill this gap, he proposes that gratitude can provide connections, create beauty, and maximize human dignity. The author also borrows from the philosopher Alfred North Whitehead to answer basic theological questions about why things happen, for example, how does the history of religion inform one's understanding of God? "When I use the term God," Guengerich writes, "I do so in this sense as the experience of ultimate belonging... God is the experience of possibility." At the end, he follows his more abstract considerations with concrete suggestions for meditation and fasting. This deceptively simple work will appeal to spiritual explorers of any stripe.