Posts Tagged ‘Thanksgiving’

What would it mean to live the life of gratitude?  What would it be like to walk out of our homes each day grateful for every gift in our lives?

Waking up, we would give thanks for our houses, the shelter above our heads each night; warmth to keep us through cold November evenings.  We might be thankful for the love in our homes, or our favorite things – our music, our books, the art that gives us pleasure.  We might be grateful for the people in our lives, both near and far away, and the reminders we keep with us of their presence.  We might be grateful for the animals who give to us companionship and joy.  We might give thanks for food, for clean water, and for hot coffee.

Stepping out into the world, we would open ourselves to a bounty of blessings – the stunning array of nature’s glory in turning leaves, the brisk air that awakens us, the smell of Autumn.  We would be grateful for neighbors, who have shown us kindness, for their children who sing with the spirit of life, for the many ways we have to get places and do things.

We would be grateful for work to do when we are employed, for support and assistance when we are not, for good health and good medicine, for the care of a loving community.  We would give thanks for our feelings – laughter that keeps spirits vibrant, tears that remind us what is most important in our hearts.  We would give thanks for the play of ideas in minds that are nature’s most profound miracle.

It is hard to live this way all the time.  Disappointments draw us away from the blessings, hard suffering gives no reason for gratitude, and the news of the day is often hard to hear.  But it is not difficult to live this way some of the time, and it is worth making the effort.  When we do, we awake not only to the extraordinary, but to the simple, ordinary blessings we take for granted.  Many of these blessings are people, who deserve to be thanked.  Others are qualities of life itself.  When we choose to look at the world through grateful eyes, what we see may astonish and inspire us.

What would it mean to live the life of gratitude?

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After a storm, there are reasons to grieve and reasons to be thankful.

Last month Hurricane Sandy left entire communities devastated, destroyed homes and shorelines, sparked fires in some homes and left many more in the cold for weeks into November.  A great many – some of whom were on the edge to begin with – are still suffering.

There are far too many reasons to grieve.

Yet it is often at times like these that neighbors discover one another and people help each other with the basic needs of life.  The divisions of ideology, which seemed so important only days before, mean little when placed against the basic needs of survival.  People help one another.  Sometimes we do it through religious communities, sometimes through charities and sometimes through government assistance – but very often it’s far simpler than that.  People see other people struggling, and offer what help they can.  Communities come together.

Thanksgiving always brings these kinds of thoughts to my mind, because essentially it is  a day about community – families sharing a meal together, volunteers at food banks and soup kitchens making sure that the poorest among us can enjoy a good meal, friends invited to each others’ Thanksgiving tables.  There are no gifts and few decorations – just a quiet meal shared with others.

That’s what I’m thankful for this Thanksgiving Day – people who help one another when there is need, and who reach out to neighbors in community.  What a better world it would be if we all remembered to be thankful, first and foremost, for each other.

Big Bill Broonzy said that Joe Turner Blues was the oldest blues song he knew, but the story remains as current today as it ever was.  It tells of a man whose giving saved many a poor family after the floods came – and of a community who turned toward each other in thanksgiving.

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