“Thou that has given so much to me, give one thing more — a grateful heart.”
The Anglican poet George Herbert, who four hundred years ago, captured with those prayerful words one of life’s deepest truths: that of all gifts the greatest is gratitude.
Thanksgiving week is an annual period when we as a country stop to express our amazement and thank God for our life together in this country and on this earth. “Come ye thankful people, come” the old harvest hymn bids us … give thanks for the fruit of creation, the “purple mountains’ majesty,” the grace of community, the sun in the morning and the moon at night. Sing praise and resolve to be good stewards.
Such thanksgiving and prayerful action is more urgent than usual I believe. Gratitude is in too short supply at the moment. One of the dark enchantments of a consumer society is its way of continually showing us what we do not have and tempting us with what we crave and deserve and need. Like Blake’s Fallen Adam, we find ourselves saying, “I want. I want,” chronically restless and anxious for ever more than we have.
The only thing which can break that cycle of craving and anxiety is the gift of gratitude. It makes us aware of all that we do have: the grace of every moment of life, the untold riches of the people around us, the simple beauty in our lives. When we look at life with grateful hearts, we see not what is missing but what is there. No matter the problems, there is always enough. Indeed our cups overflow.
Thanksgiving invites us each year not to feast merely on turkey and cranberry sauce, but to discover afresh gratitude as a way of life, an attitude which changes no less than everything. Join us on Thanksgiving Eve, Wednesday, November 24 at 6:30 p.m., for the Interfaith Thanksgiving Community Service on Zoom or in person for a celebration of Holy Eucharist at Bethesda.
I wish you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving and a good beginning on the preparatory season of Advent.