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In the movie "It's a Wonderful Life," the Jimmy Stewart character had no idea how many lives he has touched.  He is not really different from most of us, and perhaps he wouldn't have felt that way if people were better at telling others how they are touched by the things that they do.

 


Weekly Reflection: Pastor Dana Reardon
May 28 ,2007

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The Power of 'Thank You'

I spend a lot of time thinking and talking about generosity and what it means.There is, however, another side that needs equal time.Generosity, in fact, flows out of the thankfulness for what we have been given.So maybe talking about thankfulness is just going a little closer to the source. I was prompted to think more about thankfulness by a comment someone made in Biblee study. She said it would be nice to know whether she had made a difference to anyone.It would be rewarding to hear whether anyone had been touched by her life.

It occurred to me that the only way she will know is if someone like me tells her.  I know she has made a difference in my life.

Shortly before I was ordained I decided to write to people whom I felt had brought me to that day.  I wrote to the pastor who confirmed me, to a Sunday school teacher and to a Sister from nursing school.  I tell you this not because I am so good at saying thank you, but rather because I am so bad that I knew I had to make an extra effort to do what I had not been doing.

Maybe you are better about saying thank you.  Maybe all the people in your life know how much they have given you.  Perhaps you tell them on a regular basis, or at least when they go out of their way for you.  If not, then it might be time to get more intentional about saying thanks.

I had an intern supervisor who wrote thank you's every morning.  Just one or two.  I used to think it was excessive or maybe that he was just an incredibly thankful person.  The more I think about it, he might have been just like me.  He had to become intentional about it because he was not always good at saying thanks.  He did get a little silly sometimes.  I remember once he had a thank you for a thank you note and he was replying to it.  So maybe that was over the top.  But in a world where you are seldom told that someone appreciates what you do there are worse ways to be silly.

In the Christmas movie "It's a Wonderful Life," the Jimmy Stewart character had no idea how many lives he has touched.  He is not really different from most of us, and perhaps he wouldn't have felt that way if people were better at telling others how they are touched by the things that they do.  Maybe the people in our lives won't need an eccentric angel to help them to see what they give.  Maybe we can be the angels who let others know that they matter.

I used to think I shouldn't be thanked because all that I have and share, even my time, comes from God, and to God is where the thanks should go.  And yes, ultimately everything is thanks to God.  We should wake up every morning and begin with thanks.  But a big part of the way that God works is through us.  And we who are human like to be told and need to know that our lives matter to others.

The list of people I should thank grows.  So I had better get started.  And of course I begin with God.

Lord, We give thanks for creating us in relationships and giving us to each other to love and to care for.  Help me learn to be ever thankful and to make that thankfulness known. amen

Copyright 2007, The Rev. Dana Reardon. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Email her at mspastor@aol.com.



The Rev. Dana Reardon is pastor at St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church, Warwick, RI.  A lifelong Lutheran, she came to ordained ministry after 21 years in nursing, mostly in pediatric intensive care.  She graduated from Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia in 1998 and served 4 years in Upstate New York before becoming a New Englander.  She is still trying to understand the accent.  While in the Upstate New York Synod she chaired the Stewardship Team.  That began her fascination with what makes stewards -- and more, what makes for generosity. She has three amazing daughters: Pastor Reardon says much of what she knows of life she learned from them.