Brother David Steindl-Rast: Benedictine Monk and Gratitude Guru

The words and work of Brother David Steindl-Rast are deeply meaningful and inspiring to me.  After many years of writing a gratitude journal and experiencing first-hand the value of mindful gratitude, I came across his wisdom.

I discovered Brother David after my surgeries and treatment for breast cancer. That experience and shattered sense of security had further deepened my appreciation for being able-bodied and alive. So the idea of gratitude in daily life wasn’t new to me when I came across Brother David’s words and the website he helped start, www.gratefulness.org, but I still had much to learn and deeper layers of grace and gratitude to uncover. He became my gratitude guru.

His book Gratefulness, the Heart of Prayer, served to substantiate what I already knew from experience–gratitude practice is simple but not necessarily easy. Also that it works, regardless of a person’s circumstances. It’s all about personal mindset and that is something we each create for ourselves. His calm presence and tone on videos I have watched tell me that he doesn’t just talk the talk, he clearly walks the walk. I would recommend his Ted Talk here. Listen to it and carry away the simple ideas of Stop. Look. Go.

A Benedictine monk for over 60 years, he is also an interfaith scholar, an author of several books, and a speaker. When I began my blog Habitual Gratitude it was fitting to put this quote from Brother David as part of the header:

In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful,
but gratefulness that makes us happy.

These words are at the very core of why gratitude practice matters to me.

When Brother David’s book 99 Blessings came out in 2013, the dedication at the front of the book read “This little book is dedicated to all things, plants, animals, humans, and angels that made me blessed and able to bless.”  Thank you for blessing me Brother David.

There was a contest to send in the 100th blessing. The winner would receive a signed copy of his book. I submitted this:

“Source of all blessings, you bless us with footfalls. From the steady rhythm of a marathon runner to the wobbly first steps of a toddler, from a stroll in the park to determined strides down a hospital hall and everything in between. Whether on new grass, fresh snow, hard asphalt, or rough trail, the soil beneath our footfalls is solid and full of life.

 May we feel grounded by these footfalls, connected to our earthly home, appreciative of the growth and understanding that come one step at a time.”

Soon, I was informed that I had won the contest. What a pleasant surprise! Read mine and the other acknowledged blessings here.

A few weeks later, I received a signed copy of 99 Blessings. Here is the cover of the book and the words of Brother David written inside:

The book is now proudly displayed on a bookshelf in my writing space. It is one of my most cherished possessions. It is profoundly meaningful to see Brother David’s words, written by his hand. I am trying to “walk ever deeply into the joy of grateful living.” And this from a monk I have never met, now over 90 years old. We never know where messengers will emerge. We never know who will be graciously placed in the path of our lives to help guide us.

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