Giving Thanks

We wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving! Below are two passages to reflect on this holiday week.

God who loves us, who deserves our gratitude for so much that is good,
We offer our prayers of thanksgiving to you:
For the beauty of the earth — bright orange leaves mixed with green, a gentle rain, a spider’s delicate web.
For friends, for family, even acquaintances who offer us kindness, who bring us laughter, who hold us to a higher standard.
Lord of all that is good and nourishing to our well being, we give you thanks.
How we must try your patience with our pettiness!
All of life is a wonder. The very breath we take, the ability to rouse ourselves each new day, a single blade of grass that holds such miracles of symmetry, a tiny distant star whose real size boggles our minds.
We take our lives for granted — as if it were our right, and not our gift.
We take our days and our loves and our passions for granted — as if tomorrow will verify their importance and our present moments have other things to occupy us.
Gracious God, who lavishes goodness upon us even in some of our darkest moments, help us to see your goodness, remind us to have grateful hearts, give us receptive minds, and grant us ever-gracious ways of living in harmony with each other.
And in our gratitude, make us to be instruments of your peace.
Amen.

Rev. Linda McDermott, First United Methodist Church, Fort Worth, TX

Gratitude is not a passive response to something we have been given, gratitude arises from paying attention, from being awake in the presence of everything that lives within and without us. Gratitude is not necessarily something that is shown after the event, it is the deep, state of attention that shows we understand and are equal to meeting the gifted nature of life. 

Gratitude is the understanding that many millions of things come together and live together and mesh together and breathe together in order for us to take even one more breath of air, that the underlying gift of life and incarnation as a living, participating human being is a privilege; that we are miraculously part of something, rather than nothing. Even if that something is temporarily pain or despair, we inhabit a living world, with real faces, real voices, laughter; the color blue…. 

To sit among friends and strangers, hearing many voices, strange opinions; to intuit inner lives beneath surface lives, to inhabit many worlds at once in this world, to be a someone amongst all other someones,… is to deepen our sense of presence and therefore our natural sense of thankfulness that everything happens both with us and without us, that we are participants and witness at once…. Gratitude is not a passive reaction, but rather, intentional, generous attention. 

David Whyte, “Consolations”