conscious of benefits received, relieved that something has (or hasn’t) happened, contented, appreciative, grateful
благодарно, reconnaissant, אסיר תודה, grato, 감사한, riconoscente, agradecido, 感謝している, dankbaar, ευγνώμων, 感激
“Thankful” is expressed and felt differently. Many of us have the privilege of being grateful for people who love us, health, a career (or retirement), a roof over our heads. In contrast, multitudes are thankful for just one violence-free day, shelter from the cold, a medical facility, or someone to feed them.
For a large number of us, our fast-paced lives came to a screeching halt due to COVID-19—life became painfully slow (for some, lonely), inviting despair despite excellent intentions.
Others are now so overburdened by responsibilities that they can’t keep up—life is going so fast, it’s almost impossible to stop and reflect long enough to practice gratefulness.
Extremes exist all around us, altering how we live and how we practice gratitude, even when we know how blessed we are.
REIMAGINING THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR
Many of us go into overdrive attempting to create “perfection” during the holidays (guilty!). Perfect looks different to each of us but has some commonalities: clean, worry, make lists, cook, bake, overspend, try to impress (without it appearing like it was any effort at all.) Some are more concerned with “Black Friday Sales” than with staying at the table, talking to loved ones.
We even try to make up for other years’ “disappointments”—times our holidays didn’t look like a bucolic scene from “Currier & Ives”— and we miss the point.
Like many of you, I have a “what needs to get done before the holidays” list. There is, however, lodged in my brain what my husband calls the “stealth list,” with every possible thing I’d like to accomplish if only I could make the time. hmmmmm……..
Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes, “We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the ordinary, small (and yet really not small) gifts.” I believe those ordinary but not small gifts are what make up our lives. Many of us pray during challenging times but forget to pray with thankfulness and gratitude for all we have every day.
I have so much to be thankful for: my connection with God, a faith community that honors my spirit, a spouse who believes in me, wonderful children and grandchildren, friends who are real with me, understand me, and are always there for me. I have plenty to eat, heat to keep me warm, health, abilities, a home with beautiful trees complete with birds chirping outside my window. I have the luxury of reading, thinking, and expressing myself. I have so much.
Looking back on our lives, we won’t regret spending time with God, others, or in connection with our spirit—the essence of self. Yet, despite knowing, writing, and teaching that, I still have much work to do, so my journey continues.
As this year winds down, may we slow down enough to Just Be.
Be full of thanks.
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