Talking turkey about Thanksgiving:
We need a
gratitude attitude adjustment
By Victor Parachin
There's a problem with Thanksgiving. Celebrating an
"official" day--like we will on Thursday, Nov. 27--compartmentalizes
gratitude. The truth is that gratitude is the right attitude every day.
Scripture declares, "Let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise"
(Hebrews 13:15). To retain the spirit of Thanksgiving Day throughout the year,
we need to express daily gratitude for the pleasures, courtesies and blessings
that constantly come to us.
Others have found ways to do this. We can follow in their
footsteps, with thanks for their paths.
"Do" your thanking. In I Heard the Owl Call My Name, Margaret Craven tells of
a young cleric sent by his bishop to a remote parish among the Kwakiutl
Indians in British Columbia. He discovers the Indians don't have a word for
thank you but soon finds that these people have exceptional generosity.
Instead of saying thanks, it is their custom to return every kindness with an
equal or superior kindness. They do rather than speak their thanks.
Begin each day with a gratitude moment."The first thing I do when I wake up is
pray," says TV talk show host Oprah Winfrey. "It's a time of solace in which I
take a few moments to appreciate all I have." She also takes time out for
gratitude during the day: "Before I go down to tape the show, I make it a
point to be alone so I can say, 'Thank you for this opportunity.' " And she
encourages her viewers to offer up their thanks and remember them by keeping a
Count your blessings when times are tough.It's difficult to be thankful in the
face of trial, trouble or tragedy, but doing so allows the light to penetrate
our darkness. Expressing gratitude in tough times infuses our living with a
profound awareness of God's power, peace and purpose. Consider this prayer
written in 1856 by Campbell Tait, archbishop of Canterbury. Between March 11
and April 8, Tait and his wife lost five of their six daughters through
O God, you have dealt very mysteriously with us. We have been passing through
deep waters; our feet were well-nigh gone. But though you slay us, yet will we
trust in you. ... They are gone from us. ... Yet, O Lord, shall I not thank
you for now? I will thank you not only for the children you have left to us,
but for those you have reclaimed. I thank you for the blessing of the last 10
years, and for all the sweet memories of these lives. ... I thank you for the
full assurance that each has gone to the arms of the Good Shepherd, whom each
loved according to the capacity of her years. I thank you for the bright hopes
of a happy reunion, when we shall meet to part no more.
By the time Koop placed the baby on the table at Children's Hospital, the
little boy was blue and lifeless. "With no time for sterile precautions, I
opened up his chest and massaged his tiny heart with a finger until it began
to beat. Then I finished the operation," he wrote.
Review, to renew gratitude. The ungrateful are like spoiled children who just
don't see and appreciate the many good things in their lives. Ingratitude is
always a sign of spiritual immaturity. The corrective is to review our lives
to renew gratitude.
Still, Michener is able to renew his life and express his profound gratitude.
Of his adoptive mother he says: "This fine, hard-working woman always read to
us at night. By the time I was 5, I had the great rhythm of the English
language echoing in my mind."
Finally, keep in mind that our English word thanks comes from the same
Anglo-Saxon word for think. All the days of the year, all the days of our
lives can be "thanksgiving" days when we stop and think--of the varied and
diverse blessings that flow into our lives daily.
Copyright © 1997, Augsburg Fortress Publishers, Evangelical Lutheran Church
in America. From the November 1997 issue of The Lutheran magazine. Used
under Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Law that outlines "fair use" for
nonprofit educational purposes.