If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, "thank you," that would suffice. ~Meister Eckhart
Yesterday was American Thanksgiving and Catherinanne’s Family have traditionally of late years gotten together on what the media call Black Friday. Last year and this year we gathered at Turkeyville USA! It is a great place to celebrate thanksgiving a great place to find excellent turkey. I dare say, the only place I have ever found better turkey is at the St. Mark’s by-the-Lake Turkey. We have Aunt Regina to thank for her arranging such a wonderful day and being such a great hostess.
It is always good to be with family and as always we are thrilled at every chance to spend even moments with Grandpa Foltz. Thanksgiving is an interesting holiday, taken very seriously in the US. Serious enough that they can have a place called Turkeyville! There is a lot of debate about the origins of this holiday. But what remains important and what is not debated is that this secular holiday gives people pause to say thanks. Today we had lots to be thankful for, not the least of which was family and fellowship and food. Today is a reminder that we all have a need to be more thankful and to live in gratitude.
Meister Eckhart was a great theologian and mystic and I quite like his theology of gratitude. Syl Janisse who works at Marcotte’s once asked me "which of the sins offends the Father the most?" His answertp that was ingratitude. We often forget in our prayer life and in our life in general to offer thanksgiving. It is during times like thanksgiving and perhaps Easter and Christmas that we tend to remember, but on a day to day basis we forget to live in gratitude. We let life beat the gratitude out of us as we fight to keep up with it all. Here is a thought; we all pray and we all do it at different times. (Only you only know when you offer prayer – for me sometimes it is in a car or in the in-betweens of my day) I would like to suggest that we all take up the Ignatian prayer model each evening at least for a week. This can be found on the by clicking here. I want you to note part two which reads;
“2. Spend a moment looking over your day with gratitude for this day’s gifts. Be concrete and let special moments or pleasures spring to mind! Recall the smell of your morning coffee, the taste of something good that you ate, the laugh of a child, the fragrance of a flower, the smile brought forth by a kind word, a lesson that you learned. Take stock of what you received and what you gave. Give thanks to God for favors received. Also look at your permanent gifts that allow your participation in this day. Recall your particular strengths in times of difficulty, your ability to hope in times of weakness, your sense of humor and your life of faith, your intelligence and health, your family and friends. God the Father gives you these to draw you into the fullness of life. As you move through the details of your day, give thanks to God for His presence in the big and the small things of your life.”
The Jesuits place high priority on thanksgiving and gratitude. It may seem like it is impossible to be thankful when you are under a pile of difficult crap and life has given you a rotten apple. But if we take the above approach, we can find gratitude in the middle of all things. Note that it says that we can recall strength in times of difficulty or hope in weakness. It is true that if we loo for God in not just the big BUT ALSO in the small parts of our day, gratitude becomes that much easier for us.
I will finish this by having a go at reflecting on my day in gratitude. Here goes:
I am grateful for the chance today to be with family. I am grateful for the laughs I enjoyed with my friends at the CBC along with Ray Hinton who joined me for today’s taping of Monday’s show. I am grateful for the taste of tea when it first crossed my lips. I am grateful for the dedicated people of my parish. I am grateful for their work in these past days as they ready for the bazaar. I am grateful for the staff of Marcotte’s for their attention to the Fowlers. I am grateful for Erna Fowler and for her life. I m thankful that so many of her friends were with her family today when I could not be with them. I give thanks to my creator for the sunshine and the fog today. I am thankful for the quick moment with two children on their way to the Montessori School. I am grateful for the 2 hours each way in the car with Catherinanne. I am thankful that I have a great person in my life to journey with me and who ministers with me. I am thankful for the smile on Grandpa Foltz’s face, for the joy in the children’s eyes today and for the great taste of turkey and dressing. I offer a prayer of thanksgiving for my wife’s family and for the time we enjoyed with them today. I am thankful today for the safety in our travel. And I am thankful for my family out east. I am grateful for the patience to be absent from them and yet be with them daily in thought and in prayer. I am grateful for the strength I see displayed in the midst of struggle and main. I am grateful for the love I feel from my family even though they are not here with me and I am not there with them. Today I am thankful!
That actually is a very good exercise. I had not realized until I started how very much I was thankful for today. You give it a try you may be surprised as well.