Over the years, Thanksgiving has become my favorite holiday. Part of my Thanksgiving practice is to approach the word ‘thanksgiving’ anew, meditating upon it without assuming I have plumbed all its depths. Those meditations have led me to explore some of its meaning in previous Thanksgiving posts. This year I want to begin by highlighting its universality. On Thanksgiving Day, we unite our hearts and minds around a single theme that we can all value, regardless of our religious, political, and ethnic differences. It requires no air of nationalism, patriotism, or allegiance to any cause. Rich and poor alike can feel the glow of thankfulness in their hearts, and know the joy of expressing it. It is simply and fundamentally human to know and share gratitude. Therefore this day is a very natural opportunity to remember our unity in the spirit of humanity.*
Rather than say much more on the universality in thanksgiving, this year I want to invite you to ponder its universality for yourself, and to include that theme along with some other questions and ideas about thanksgiving. What does the word ‘thanksgiving’ mean to you? Does it mean to remember people and things for which you are or might be thankful? Does it mean to offer up your thanks in prayer and praise to God? Does it mean to share your gratitude openly with others? All of the above? Is there something else? How does it affect your understanding of thanksgiving if you apply Matthew 25:40?
Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.
Who will you directly, personally, and sincerely thank for being who and what they are?
Here are some words from others that I find worth pondering, and I offer them for your meditations as well.
The essence of all beautiful art, all great art, is gratitude.
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.
Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God, and keep the vows you made to the Most High.
Psalm 50:14 (NLT)
At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.
Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.
Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. Do not stifle the Holy Spirit.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-19 (NLT)
I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.
Gilbert K. Chesterton
A person however learned and qualified in his life’s work in whom gratitude is absent, is devoid of that beauty of character which makes personality fragrant.
Hazrat Inayat Khan
Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.
Colossians 4:2 (NLT)
‘Thank you’ is the best prayer that anyone could say. I say that one a lot. Thank you expresses extreme gratitude, humility, understanding.
Joy is the simplest form of gratitude.
Since everything God created is good, we should not reject any of it but receive it with thanks.
1 Timothy 4:4(NLT)
God is always coming to you in the Sacrament of the Present Moment. Meet and receive Him there with gratitude in that sacrament.
In the New Testament, religion is grace and ethics is gratitude.
My thanks to you, dear reader, for being someone who visits this blog and ChristianMystics.com, meeting others and me in spirit whether you comment or not. May you know the deepest blessings of thankfulness and gratitude, where giver and receiver meet and realize their unity, and thus giving and receiving are one. In the comments section, please share anything that comes to you while you meditate upon thanksgiving.
* Even though I view thankfulness as universal, and this holiday as an opportunity to remember and celebrate the spiritual unity of humanity, it is nonetheless true that many Native Americans consider Thanksgiving Day as a National Day of Mourning. In my thankfulness, I also remember that much for which I am thankful has come with the cost of horrible atrocities. I wish to honor the many contributions, willing and unwilling, Native American people have made to the USA and the world.