In North America, our Thanksgiving celebration began with the pilgrims giving thanks for the fall harvest that would get them through the winter. Today as the holiday weekend approaches, it’s hard to open our eyes to the bounty in God’s world. Covid 19 restrictions, wearing masks can blind us to the beauty in our own gardens filled with endless zucchini, or a local market aflame with the colour of the fall harvest. This year the trees are glorious. No artists paintbrush could ever reproduce the vivid glow of our autumn hillsides. When we give thanks we have to stop and soak in the spectacular vibrant world around us.
Giving thanks also reminds us to consider the goodness in our own lives. Yes, we may need to seek help from the foodbank, make too many trips to the doctor, or have hearts heavy with grief, yet still, there is goodness. We are alive. We have family, friends. Maybe it is just the fact that we woke up this morning, were able to walk, to breathe. Yes there is goodness. Gratitude, like love, is more than a feeling. We choose to be grateful. We choose to develop an attitude of gratitude. When we do that goodness in our world deepens and grows.
In the Bible story of Jesus’ healing of the ten lepers, only one chose to take action and return to thank Jesus. His action made a difference in how he thought about his healing. The others received the gift of healing as one of entitlement. They came, they asked, they received. They earned their gift. They won the lottery. Only one made the connection between the gift and the giver.
That’s what the attitude of gratitude is all about. We are making a habit of connecting the endless, overflowing blessings in our lives with the giver of those blessings, whether we call that giver our child, our spouse, our friend, a stranger, in the end our blessings come ultimately from God. Kathleen Long Bostrom in her book, Finding Calm in the Chaos, says, “Whenever God is involved, there is always a choice to be made.” Remember, when it comes to life, our choice must be gratitude. When we forget, or think we are entitled, we don’t know what can happen.
A few years ago, a friend swerved his car to avoid a straight front on collision with an oncoming car. The cars still collided enough to flip my friend’s car over and dump it into the ditch. A mother and two children in the oncoming car were not hurt. My friend received a severe and permanent back injury. I don’t know first-hand what happened after the accident that day. I know only that my friend feels he has never received a thank you for his good deed. That lack of gratitude has preyed on his mind ever since. Every time I see him, our conversation eventually comes to, “She never even said thank you.”
Gratitude is important.