Gratitude is not only one of those necessary staples of the spiritual life, it is the centerpiece of the feast that we can practice on ANY given day, not just on Thanksgiving. We can feast on gratitude anytime and always — when life is going badly or when it’s going great.
Having gratitude for “what is” also teaches us humility in a real sense: we can’t always change the circumstances in our lives or the lives of others, so we surrender and accept the reality that we have little control of other people’s choices in life. In letting go, we feel the blessing of transcending our problem-thinking and compulsive ways of behaving in the world. Many have come to know this as grace – a blessing from a higher power — a state of mind we know as serenity.
Gratitude is like gravity in the spiritual life: it grounds us to something deeper than what we normally see. Gratitude gives us eyes to appreciate our own lives and what we already have. There is ALWAYS something we can be grateful for. Practicing gratitude is a way to seeing what is truly important. This can affect how we prioritize our life: to whom we need to lend a hand, to what causes we want to give.
This year, my husband and I are giving to the World Food Program, the food assistance branch of the United Nations headed by Executive Director David Beasley (see link below to read his 60 Minutes profile). Put yourself in the shoes of people living in conflict: besides not enough food to eat, poor hygiene, water systems, medical care, and every other type of assistance we take for granted are completely out of range for these civilians. They surely can’t survive without food.
Beasley is often on the frontlines of famines and food insecurity the world over. Right now the people of Yemen, Ethiopia, and Afghanistan are in trouble and he and the United Nations workers are doing what we are unable to do. But there IS something we can do.
As we sit down to eat this holiday, let’s remember all those who are food insecure and remember how incredibly fortunate we are to take our meals for granted. Please give to your local, national, and international food banks this holiday season.
A Blessed Thanksgiving to You and Yours,