So most of today, I have been singing the chorus to the worship song, “Give Thanks” in my head, “Give thanks to a grateful heart, give thanks to the Holy One, give thanks…”
And then I forget the rest of the lyrics.
Today was a seesaw day. I had the opportunity to have an early supper with some old and dear friends – Mike and Kim from Channel Three (CH3) plus Kimm’s wife Kelli. I have known and been friends with these folks for over 24 years. It was a blessing to hang out, have a few glasses of wine/beer and some food over good conversation.
But this was deeply weighted by some very bad news I received beforehand.
Therein lies the crux or the paradox of life, the good and the bad many times are entwined. Entwined some times in the same hour. The big challenge for me is how to digest it, what to make of it, and how I will choose to respond to the circumstances of life.
One of the things that I have learned in the last 15 years is how to count my blessings or count the things that I am grateful for, even if very small, each day. Write them down if necessary to make the things that I am thankful for more concrete.
Today, I am thankful for dear friends with whom I have walked the miles with, in good times and in bad and in mundane times. I am also thankful for all the folks who did not get shot today in Mumbai. I am praying that peace will reign today in Mumbai. I am thankful for Scruffy and Belle, even when Scruffy had diarrhea inside in front of folks (oops) this afternoon. I am also thankful for the rain that SoCal received last night.
Rather than go on, I would like to link to Mary Beth Crain’s essay in the SOMA journal on “Reasons to Be Grateful“:
My great-aunt Lillian was a real pill–a stern spinster-type who made a loud practice of going around doing good and letting everybody know about it. And she was always lecturing you. One of her favorite admonitions was to “Beee grateful!” Whenever she caught you complaining, she’d deliver an unsolicited sermon on everything you had to be thankful for. Unfortunately, she was so sanctimonious about it that all you wanted to do was kill her.
As a result, Aunt Lil and her “Beee grateful!” became a standing family joke. We kids were always going around imitating her. If my brother stubbed his toe and let out an expletive, I’d respond with “Beee grateful! At least you have your toe! There are some people who don’t have any feet!” Then we’d all crack up.
Well, it took me about 40 years to realize that Aunt Lil was actually right.
Ms. Crain does not only recommend taking stock of what one is thankful for but also what one is angry at or un-thankful for. She hopes that the thankful list will be longer than the other list.
I think it becomes a spiritual discipline to choose to find more things each day to be thankful for than not. Let’s start today and tomorrow to enumerate out our blessings and what we are thankful for and keep doing it each day from here on out.
Update from Thanksgiving Night 11.27.08: Erika kindly emailed me the lyrics to the Give Thanks song…
Give thanks with a grateful heart
Give thanks to the Holy One
Give thanks because He’s given Jesus Christ His Son
And now let the weak say I am strong
Let the poor say I am rich
Because of what the Lord has done for us