We are a week out from the Thanksgiving holiday, which is not only an occasion for a great feast, but also a time to remember to be grateful.
On the one hand, this probably sounds a bit trite. I would hardly be the first person to suggest that we should use the Thanksgiving holiday to take stock of that in our life which we have to be grateful for. On the other hand, it’s a suggestion which I think we can never hear often enough. Why? Because we too often forget to be grateful at all.
Much of the time, many if not most of us spend time focusing on whatever it is that is wrong in our lives. This can range from dwelling on irritations which, in the end, are not really such a big deal to being weighed down by genuinely big problems that do indeed bind up our hearts and steal our energy. Whether we are sweating the small stuff or grappling with some truly big things, it is an important spiritual discipline that we discover what there is to be grateful for and take a moment to give thanks. Perhaps, on our worse days, we can’t find much beyond a stranger’s smile or a ray of sunshine to be grateful for. On our better days, we might take time to be grateful for life itself, for the relationships that enliven our lives, for the job that another would love to have or a roof over our head. My point is that wherever we find ourselves in life, we can find something for which to give thanks.
And it is important that we do so, for the regular practice of giving thanks can slowly and subtly influence the way in which we meet and perceive the world. When we remember gratitude, even for something very small, we experience a small transformation of the heart. The regular practice of gratitude can help us see the world and our lives as places of possibility. Ultimately, a practice of gratitude becomes the soil in which hope can grow. And everyone needs at least a little hope to live.
So as you approach the Thanksgiving holiday, make a commitment over the next few days to remember gratitude. As each day comes to a close, ask yourself what there was in your day for which you can give thanks. And as you identify and hold onto these moments of thanksgiving, you will be deepening your connection to the source of gratitude, to God, and you will be increasing your capacity to greet the world open to possibility and grounded in hope.