November 20, 2016 – A View from the Rectory Window



At Thanksgiving we pause, even if only in a cursory way (and it often is) to consider what we’re thankful for. Usually we’re more interested in turkey, football and shopping than in the practice of deep gratitude. (Isn’t it odd how on one day we give thanks for all we have, and then the next day we go on a mad shopping rampage?) This Thanksgiving I encourage you to give gratitude a try. Take a moment to think for what you are most deeply grateful. Most people’s lists are kind of short. Family, friends, health, material comforts, our nation, church and pets. That about covers it.

This year I invite you to go deeper. As long as you’re being thankful for something, say, our nation, be thankful for the whole thing, not just your favorite parts or peoples. Consider how our nation truly is greater than the sum of all its parts. Should we not be thankful for all the people, all the kinds of people, all the races all the ages and shapes and lifestyles and perspectives, the heroes and the ones who struggle? Everybody. If you are grateful for your family, give thanks for the whole family tree stretching back to Adam and Eve, even the ‘misfits’. Thank God for them, each one of them, or you wouldn’t be here. If you are grateful for your health, thank God for your body, this amazing creation that may be older and weaker than you wish, but it keeps you alive. Even our aches and pains are a necessary part of this gift.

If you’re really deeply grateful for what you have, you know that it’s a gift. You are aware that you haven’t earned or created it yourself. Your health, your family, your station in life, even the money you’ve “earned” is a gift (plenty of people work hard and no one pays them for it). And you’re grateful for all those who suffered so that you could have it: the underpaid migrants who pick your fruit, the black – lung infected miners who dig the coal that keeps you warm, the people who harvest your coffee beans and your chocolate.

Beware of selfishness masquerading as gratitude. There’s a difference between gratitude and possessiveness. Love does not rejoice at the suffering of others, nor does it seek to keep what we are grateful for to ourselves. (Thank God for my food; too bad for the poor…thank God we get cheap goods, though the people who made them can’t afford them…thank God for oil; too bad for the earth…) If we are truly grateful we are mindful of the whole.

Even as we give thanks for our goods, health, friends and comfort, we are aware of those without. And we are aware not just in thought but in deed. In love, gratitude is not a feeling; it’s an act. We don’t just have thanks; we give thanks.

— My prayer for us all is that our gratitude be more than just a feeling, but something we practice. May you and all those you love have a deeply grateful thanksgiving.

Father Pete