Friday, December 31, 2021

Life Lately: Some gratitude to end the year

The author of Luke tells a fascinating story about gratitude. While traveling to Jerusalem, Jesus encounters ten lepers and asks them to present themselves to the priests, healing them as they go. Upon realizing they have been healed, only one of them returns to thank Jesus. Jesus then remarks, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?”

When I first encountered this story as a child, I thought the nine were strange people. Think about it. Someone heals them of a devastating condition that has excluded them from society for years, and they can’t be bothered to say thanks. I was confident that could never be me. As I’ve grown older though, I have realized it is easy for good people to be ungrateful. And very often, I think that happens when we’re very focused on the things that haven’t gone as we expected.

2021 was an intense year. The bar was somewhat low following all the COVID-craziness of 2020, but 2021 brought its own drama and even surpassed 2020 in some respects. There were new variants of COVID, many people lost relatives and loved ones or endured anxiety while nursing them back to health, there were disruptive lockdowns and travel bans, and there was a lot of scaremongering by the media.

Despite the many ways in which this year has been challenging, I like to believe there have also been pockets of goodness. It doesn’t have to be life-changing stuff like being healed of leprosy. Perhaps there was a delicious meal you enjoyed with a loved one, or maybe you got to spend some time with family. Maybe you managed to start a new life in a new country (hello Canadian readers!), or you started that master’s programme you had aspired to for years.

If you haven’t done so already, on today – this last day of the year 2021 – I invite you to pick up a pen and paper, or open the Notes app on your phone, and list out a few things you’re grateful for after reflecting on the past twelve months. Then spend some time in gratitude.

Happy New 2022 in advance!


This is my 41st Life Lately post this year. I started doing these posts in January because I wanted to write more frequently. I’ve wanted to do so for years, but the key thing that changed this year (based on Atomic Habits) was setting aside Sunday mornings as “writing time”. 41 posts after (which is more than I’ve written in any year since 2014), I thought I’d call-out the most popular entries this year:

These posts tend to be short because I start and finish them within two hours before heading off to church on Sundays. I would like to write longer essays next year, so that may mean posting less frequently. We’ll see what 2022 holds.


I started many new habits this year and stopped a few. My favourite new one is reading the Bible every single day. Previously, I read the Bible on most days, but this year I decided I wanted to read it every day. I started a few days late in January, but as of today, I have now read the Bible 361 days in a row. What worked was tacking it on to an existing habit (again a tip from Atomic Habits). I already had a habit of meditating in the mornings before starting work, so I added “read the bible” to the existing meditation habit.

I’ve really enjoyed connecting daily with the wisdom and truth of the Bible and look forward to carrying on this habit into the future.


I finished 46 books this year. As always, I started many more that I chose not to complete. My number one tip for reading more is to read books about stuff you’re interested in. It’s so much easier to finish the books that way. I read many lovely books, but my favourites were:

These are all good reads, and you can’t go wrong with any of them! The full reading list for this year is here:


On Sunday, I’ll be back with a quick read to help you achieve your goals for 2022.

Enjoy the New Year Eve celebrations. xoxo