I’ve been thinking about the difference between gifts and pleasures. Is a delicious bite of chocolate a gift or pleasure? Or perhaps a guilty pleasure? Is a quiet morning on the patio, watching a hummingbird and listening to the silence, a gift or pleasure?
Pleasure is terribly underrated, especially from a religious perspective. It is often viewed with suspicion, that somehow pleasure is selfish and indulgent. “How can we focus on the pleasure of a delicious meal,” some reason, “when there are people still starving in our world?”
To be sure, pleasure isn’t everything, but just because it’s not everything doesn’t mean it’s nothing.
What if we reframed pleasure? Instead of thinking of it as a guilty indulgence or even a deserved reward, what if we started thinking of pleasure as a gift, and if it’s a gift, that means not to enjoy it is the ultimate insult.
To enjoy the pleasure of a vacation, for example, or even a bite of chocolate, doesn’t mean you don’t care about the world. It simply means you are accepting the moment as a gift, and to be present in the moment is always the beginning of gratitude.
Take a Breath. Notice one thing that gives you pleasure today. Pay attention to it. Linger with it. Let it rise to the surface of your consciousness, so that the pleasure you feel becomes a brief meditation, a simple prayer, or even a sacrament of God’s goodness and grace.