With Grace and Gratitude

To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything He has given us – and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him.
Gratitude therefore takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise of the goodness of God. For the grateful person knows that God is good, not by hearsay but by experience.                     ~ Thomas Merton
It’s the day before Thanksgiving. Despite the name, I’m not sure there’s really that much thanks associated with Thanksgiving. It’s more about floats and food and family and football and that’s OK because Thanksgiving is a holiday.

There’s nothing in the definition of holiday that includes holiness or happiness. A holiday, according to Webster, is a day on which one is exempt from work. And even though 17% of US workers will spend Thanksgiving at work, most will find some way on some day to celebrate.

But because holidays receive a so much hype, it’s hard not to wrap them up in a glitzy mess of assumptions and expectations. On one hand, it’s easy to give way to the idea that everyone else is having a Norman Rockwell day. It’s equally easy to expect magic – to build in expectations that this day, this year, this time, will be different, will be perfect.

The reality is that holidays are intrinsically a celebration of life and love and blessings for some and a reminder of loss and loneliness and lack for others. Which they are for whom varies from year to year. But thankfulness, gratitude –  takes nothing for granted. It isn’t reserved for the 4th Thursday of November.

It’s not the state of Thanksgiving that concerns me, it’s the condition of my own heart on each and every day. Am I seeking to have a heart that’s rich with thankfulness and an awareness that God has already given me everything? Am I living a life so filled with grace that it spills out all over everywhere? Am I so steeped in gratitude that I take less and less for granted?

May this Thanksgiving and the day after and the day after that be days of grace and gratitude for each of us, simply because we know God is good, not by hearsay, but by experience.