gratitude is not an action.
I love Thanksgiving. Though this may seem like crazy talk, it’s one of my favorite holidays.
There is so much eating, the parade, the dog show (what? you know you watch it too!), the football…then we eat again...
With all that gluttony it’s easy to forget the point of the day.
It is a state, an attitude. It’s a way of being.
Gratitude is not something you do. There are actions that come out of gratitude, but it isn’t an action.
Gratitude is something we buy into, we fuse into the fabric of who we are.
Gratitude is the thing that makes waiting in line at the store beautiful, because we have a store and a line to wait in.
Gratitude is the thing that makes listening to a child ramble story over story, because we have a child healthy enough to tell two stories at once.
Gratitude is the thing that helps fighting couples move on, because we have each other - even if we’re battered messes in the meantime.
This week is one of celebration for some, mixed emotions for others. It is a holiday built on a questionable event, which we can’t edit or redact at this point. However we got here, we are here.
We could stand to be more honest about it, though. Honestly.
But a crash point - a full stop day where we turn our attention to gratitude - isn’t a bad idea. It is, in fact, a countercultural idea.
Gratitude can’t exist with greed.
Gratitude can’t exist with impatience.
Gratitude can’t exist with bitterness, rage, and prejudice.
We simply cannot form that grateful place in the clay of our hearts if we’re busy flinging wet clay around the workshop.
It takes time.
It takes careful hands.
It takes love for what we are and what we’re doing.
As we take a moment this week to “thanks-give” it’s hard not to think of Jesus.
When He gathered men and women to the table, to literally keep them arrive by feeding them, He took simple bread and said divine things about it.
He took the bread and blessed it - spoke well over it. At least we have bread.
He looked around at the faces, aged and worn and beautiful. At least we have each other.
He took the wine and shared it - pert, dark, sustaining. At least we have grapes.
He gave thanks for all of it.
Was Jesus grateful? I believe so.
Did He model gratitude for us? I think so.
Then we hear, “Do this in remembrance of me."
Remember the bread, the table, and the wine.
Remember that we have each other.
Remember that you have me.
Gratitude comes when the spark of this thought sits in our soul, gathering the dry twigs of our bitter urges and throwing them to light. And then, then we’ll be thankful at the core of who we are.