I awoke to a thin layer of snow falling gently upon the mountains. Breathing fresh air through an open window while watching snowflakes slowly descend, I felt as though time were suspended and I, caught up in a snow globe. A moment frozen. And in that moment, I was so small in the scope of a world, yet so intimately known and loved by the Creator of it all, Whose eyes smiled at my soul delighting in the day’s beauty.
Oh what a wonderful day to be alive. My heart swells with joy on this, my favorite holiday. I’m far from my beloved family and rituals, but I’m very aware that the joy of gratitude and the ability to love is not lost across the miles. I am enjoying a quiet evening after work, reflecting on the meaning of gratitude and feeling the bliss of it – for life overflows with beauty when we put on the lenses to appreciate it.
Even as I practice offering worshipful thanksgiving for all the good, my heart feels an ache – twinges of nostalgia and grief for those I’ve loved and lost. This is a right feeling. It is important to feel, for it reminds me of the good and the joy and the beauty that was. Even if they be no longer accessible save but for memories, those moments were real. They happened. They were. And, if I can continue to express and experience gratitude in the memory of those moments, they still are. This is why I love this holiday. The autumn season. I love the depth of it. The timelessness of it. The beauty that fades to light.
Why are we grateful?
Albert Schweitzer said, “Nothing that is done for you is a matter of course. Everything originates in a will for the good, which is directed at you.”
Why do we give thanks?
Every good and perfect gift comes to us, not because of our own merit, but as a gift. Our joy in these gifts – our full hearted delight – is why they have been given. Our gratitude is an echo of our joy – a small offering of glory to the Giver.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”
“Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire,
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?
Be thankful when you don’t know something
For it gives you the opportunity to learn.
Be thankful for the difficult times.
During those times you grow.
Be thankful for your limitations
Because they give you opportunities for improvement.
Be thankful for each new challenge
Because it will build your strength and character.
Be thankful for your mistakes
They will teach you valuable lessons.
Be thankful when you’re tired and weary
Because it means you’ve made a difference.
It is easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who are
also thankful for the setbacks.
Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles,
and they can become your blessings.”
A Summer Day
by Mary Oliver
“Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention,
how to fall down into the grass,
how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed,
how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
by Henry Van Dyke
“‘Do you give thanks for this? — or that?’
No, God be thanked I am not grateful
In that cold, calculating way, with blessing ranked
As one, two, three, and four, — that would be hateful.
I only know that every day brings good above.
My poor deserving; I only feel that, in the road of Life,
true Love Is leading me along and never swerving.
Whatever gifts and mercies in my lot may fall, I would not measure
As worth a certain price in praise, or great or small;
But take and use them all with simple pleasure.
For when we gladly eat our daily bread,
we bless The Hand that feeds us;
And when we tread the road of Life in cheerfulness,
Our very heart-beats praise the Love that leads us.”
Gratitude and Love to God
by William Cowper
“All are indebted much to Thee,
But I far more than all,
From many a deadly snare set free,
And raised from many a fall.
Overwhelm me, from above,
Daily, with Thy boundless love.
What bonds of gratitude I feel
No language can declare;
Beneath the oppressive weight I reel,
‘Tis more than I can bear:
When shall I that blessing prove,
To return thee love for Love?
Spirit of charity, dispense
Thy grace to every heart;
Expel all other spirits thence,
Drive self from every part;
Charity divine, draw nigh,
Break the chains in which we lie!
All selfish souls, whate’er they feign,
Have still a slavish lot;
They boast of liberty in vain,
Of love, and feel it not.
He whose bosom glows with Thee,
He, and he alone, is free.
Oh blessedness, all bliss above,
When thy pure fires prevail!
Love only teaches what is love:
All other lessons fail:
We learn its name, but not its powers,
Experience only makes it ours.”