Thankful: conscious of benefit received; pleased or grateful; glad that something has happened or not happened, that something or someone exists; appreciative of a benefit
благодарно, reconnaissant, אסיר תודה, grato, 감사한, riconoscente, agradecido, 感謝している, dankbaar, ευγνώμων, 感激
Depending on where you live “thankful” is not only expressed differently, it’s felt differently. Many of us have the privilege of being thankful for people who love us, good health, a career (or retirement), or a roof over our heads. Many others are thankful for just one day of non-violence, shelter, a medical facility even remotely close to them, or someone to give them anything to eat.
It seems that in our fast-paced lives we rarely stop, breathe, and reflect long enough to be thankful. We often have great intentions because we know how fortunate we are but, in spite of that, many of us go into overdrive during holiday seasons, attempting to create “perfection”.
“Perfect” looks different to all of us but there seem to be some commonalities: we clean, worry, make lists, cook, bake, overspend, and try to impress without it looking like it was any effort at all. We’re more concerned with getting to the store for that special sale than we are with staying at the table. And, as we try to make up for all the disappointments we’ve had over the years—the times our holidays didn’t look like a bucolic scene from “Currier & Ives”—we often miss the point.
In “Life Together”, Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s writes, “We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the ordinary, small (and yet really not small) gifts.”
I think the ordinary but not small gifts are what make up our lives. A lot of us pray when we’re in a tough place, but forget to pray with thankfulness and gratitude for all we have every day.
I’ve kept a gratitude journal from time-to-time, but never with real commitment. What’s weird is that it should be one of the easiest things for me to do—I have so much to journal about. I have a wonderful “family” (not only people biologically or legally connected to me). I have a strong connection to God, a faith community that honors my spirit, a husband who believes in me, wonderful daughters and grandchildren who add so much to my life.
I have dear friends who are real with me and “get” me; friends who would drop everything if I needed them. I have plenty to eat and heat to keep me warm. I live in a place with beautiful trees and birds chirping outside my window. I have the luxury of reading and thinking and expressing myself. I have so much.
When we look back on our lives I don’t think we’re going to regret spending time with God, being in community with others, or in quiet connecting with our spirit—the essence of who we are. And, in spite of knowing and writing that, I still have much work to do.
I hope that, as this year winds down, we all slow down enough to just be.
Be full of thanks.
May this season of love be just that.