Hey, I’m a poet and didn’t even know it! Making Thanksgiving a way of living isn’t as hard as you might think. I understand that there is much to grumble about but, I want to write more on being grateful.
God has a way of entering into our needs in a most generous and beautiful way when we first approach Him with praise and thanksgiving. It is not hard to imagine how our God must feel, when we our selves do not always feel appreciated. We all have stories of times when we were not appreciated. Needless to say, it is way worse to have a story when we were not appreciative.
I remember when I was in eighth grade, our teacher Sister Dominic, helped us with making angels for the top of our Christmas trees to give as a gift to our parents. She spent the better part of a whole night finishing them with gold spray paint, so that we could give them to our parents the next night at the Christmas program. She lovingly had them placed on our desks the next morning. None of us seemed to even notice. I remember, to my shame, not finding any joy in making the angels and making fun of the project. Before she started lessons for the day, she stood before the class and waited for an awkward moment. She then asked us if there was anything we wanted to say to her. After a long pause of silence, I will never forget the look on her face, her eyes welled up and her lip started to quiver. Finally one of the boys in class, Joe, said, “Thank you Sister!” She turned to him and said, “God BLESS you Joe!”. He was the only one to receive that blessing, he was the one who noticed what she had done and he was grateful. Joe’s heart was formed in gratefulness. Luke 6:45 “…for from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks”.
First we need to take notice of what God has done for us. Having life and a body is a good place to start. Starting within the center of ourselves and then move out ward. Thank Him for our hearts, it’s beating, our lungs, that they are breathing, our stomachs, that they are digesting, our blood supplied by our bones, that it nourishes our brains and bodies with oxygen and nutrients … You get the idea. From ourselves, we thank Him for others, nature, objects like, key boards and the fingers to use them… Most of the time when we do this we forget why we wanted to grumble in the first place. Of course there are problems in our lives that only God can fix. In thanking Him for that fact, He finds a good place to start in fixing them.
I distinctly remember a time when God entered into my life very profoundly. While driving my regular daily route and spending this time giving God my daily grumblings of all the things I wanted Him to fix about my husband, God very rudely interrupted me, and I felt Him say, “I want you to thank Me for him”. My response was not a generous one. I said, “You want me to thank You for him?”. He didn’t respond. I then said “Fine, thank You God for Bobby!” I said it over and over that day, crying in between. I had waisted so much time focused on faults and not truly appreciating who he was and the gift that God had given me in our marriage. When he got home from work, I tearfully let him have it. I let Bobby know just how much I appreciated him and thanked him for being a good husband and dad. He smiled with a puzzled look, put his arm around my shoulder and asked what smelled so good. People gravitate toward appreciation and so does our Lord. Being thankful to our Creator and each other is the polite thing to do. He loves us so much, how can we not thank Him.
What plagues our families, communities, nation and world is ingratitude. I believe with all my heart that the beginning of moral law starts with a grateful heart. Gratefulness sets moral law in motion. It’s the beginning of humility. There is a definite correlation between success and a grateful heart. People with grateful hearts have a gravitational pull to them. They appreciate opportunity, hard work, gifts, freedom, life…(Speaking of life, how can we not appreciate the miracle of it? I would like to take this moment to thank God for fertility. The world is teeming with it.) They appreciate success and strive for it on a daily basis. They see life in real time, right as it is happening in front them. With gratitude our perspective changes, we lift each other up, we congratulate our successes and over come our faults. With gratitude we whistle more, we sing more, we skip more, we love more. With gratitude we move mountains and change the world. Matthew 5:5 “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land”. And maybe even a blessing from a little nun.
Catechism of the Catholic Church states:
759 “The eternal Father, in accordance with the utterly gratuitousand mysterious design of his wisdom and goodness, created the whole universe and chose to raise up men to share in his own divine life,” to which he calls all men in his Son. “The Father . . . determined to call together in a holy Church those who should believe in Christ.” This “family of God” is gradually formed and takes shape during the stages of human history, in keeping with the Father’s plan. In fact, “already present in figure at the beginning of the world, this Church was prepared in marvelous fashion in the history of the people of Israel and the old Alliance. Established in this last age of the world and made manifest in the outpouring of the Spirit, it will be brought to glorious completion at the end of time.”