By Maria Morera Johnson


Photo by Troy, via Flickr. All rights reserved.

There’s a little handwritten sign near my office that says, Have an attitude of gratitude.”

It’s meant to inspire us to better customer service, but every time I see it I can’t help but think about my own attitude—at work, certainly, but at home, in my relationships with loved ones, and in my relationship with God.

Do I really have an attitude that expresses gratefulness?

When pressed to list all the things for which I’m thankful, I can compete with the best. You want ten items? A dozen? Two dozen? A hundred? Piece of cake.

It’s a different thing to move through the day and give thanks. Even if I do wake up and thank the Lord for a new day, and a new opportunity to get it right for Him, I get lost in the details and forget to be thankful. I know what scripture tells me:

A Psalm of thanksgiving.
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;

come into his presence with singing.
—Psalm 100:1-2

But I struggle with the execution.

When doing the breakfast dishes, I grumble at the mess instead of being grateful for a nutritious (and sometimes not very nutritious) start for the day.

In traffic, I complain about slow drivers and long traffic signals instead of being grateful for the convenience of personal transportation.

When at work, I resent interruptions in my work-flow because I have meetings and office hours that take me away from pressing deadlines instead of being grateful for a job that uses my gifts.

That last one came to me in an extraordinary moment in the middle of the afternoon.

As I walked down a hallway, I was suddenly surprised by what sounded like singing. As I got closer to the atrium in the middle of the building, I could hear it clearly—an angelic woman’s voice singing a spiritual I wasn’t familiar with—but instantly recognized as a song of thanksgiving and praise.

I was stunned. I looked around, thinking a choir was performing, but no one was in the open space. Instead, I encountered groups of people, all with the same stunned looks on their faces, looking around trying to understand where the singing came from. On everyone’s mind was the pressing question, why?

I followed the song to a back hallway just as the last notes rang out, and saw a small group of women who were hugging each other, wiping tears of joy off their faces. Security was making a beeline for the group, but there was nothing to do—the song was over, but it seems, the effects were just beginning.

People were talking about what had just happened—an elderly woman with an amazing voice sang praises to the Lord. In her own words, “I was called, and I had to obey.”

To say this was extraordinary, maybe even inappropriate—breaking out in song in a business environment—is not the point. I think we can agree that the ending might have been different if security had gotten there faster, but what this woman did, in witnessing so openly and fearlessly, gave me pause.

Am I fearless in my witness? Would I be bold in expressing my love of the Lord to people I don’t know? How can I live in the world, and embrace my role in the new evangelization?

I think the answer is simple, and not quite as dramatic as singing a solo in a hallway.

I can do my work joyfully, with gratitude. In serving others, I am serving the Lord. I am called, and I should obey.

About the Author:

maria johnsonMaria Morera Johnson is a blogger and cohost of SPQN’s Catholic Weekend. She is a composition and literature professor and director of English learning support at Georgia Piedmont Technical College, working with nontraditional students in innovative success initiatives. She has received a number of awards for teaching. Maria is a native of Cuba. Her book, My Badass Book of Saints: Courageous Women Who Showed Me How to Live, was published by Ave Maria Press. She and her, husband, John, have three grown children and live in Conyers, Georgia.