Thanks-giving and what it does

The world feels sad and scary just now.  And for some, it may feel like denial or naiveté to deliberately turn to gratitude.  Perhaps we start to believe we are accomplishing something by feeling the weight of the world in every moment, so by stopping to give thanks, it looks like we’re stepping away from our post.

But that couldn’t be further from the truth.  
Gratitude is not trite.  It is not shallow.  It comes out of suffering and survival, and it demands honesty. In fact, grieving opens us to greater gratitude, and gratitude opens us to  deeper grieving; they are both aspects of being alive and paying attention. Gratitude recognizes that life is filled with tragedy, or at the very least anxiety, and it acknowledges our finitude, but at the same time it notices that our very existence is a gift from God; it points us again to that truth. It helps us come awake again.  

Gratitude happens only in the very moment we are in.  “This moment is a gift!” gratitude exclaims, “Life is such a gift!” 

With all the noise, and sorrow, and guns, and advertisements, and fear, and campaigning, we get distracted from the real reality that is here within it all.  Sometimes we stop seeing the presence of God, but God is here.  Sometimes we miss the beauty, and the love, and hope, and the human connection, and forgiveness and compassion, but here it is, leaking into everything through the splits in the seams.  There is no suffering Christ is not sharing, no situation that God is not right here in the midst of, bringing life out of death and light into darkness.

God is God and we are God’s beloved children. Every one.
And one day, when time is no more, there will be only wholeness, abundance and peace, life, wrapped in eternal gratitude. 

The dis-membered world needs people who re-member.  Who notice and celebrate and say Thank You.  And we need it too.

Gratitude brings us back to home base, and plugs us back in to love and hope so we can join in God’s reality around us and between us.  When we allow ourselves to stop in the moment of thank you, for that one moment the real reality of God is breathlessly tangible.

So today when we look across the table at those who we love and wish we could love better, and sit side by side with our joblessness and our cancer, our autism and our anger, our stupid mistakes and unfulfilled goals, and every scary, broken, sad and violent thing happening in the world that presses in on us and feels so heavy and overwhelming, these things are not the biggest or most powerful, or more real thing in the room. Or in the world.

And if you can’t feel it today, that’s ok too. It’s still real. God is still here.  Life is still a gift.  Love still wins, and hope still prevails, and light still shines in the darkness and will not be overcome.  And some other time when you aren’t expecting it, it will tap you the shoulder and flood you with wonder and awe.

So when thanks-giving comes for you – whenever and every time it comes, let it come. Welcome it. Without judgment or hesitation, let it sweep through you and buoy you up in the timeless and eternal promise that tastes like laughter and feels like joy, in its deep-sigh, tear-filled contented stillness.  Let your body practice the truth that your brain sometimes forgets: your heart open and free, remembering, rejoicing, defiant and hopeful and grateful. Give Thanks.

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