It’s always true of the season of thanksgiving that it leads us into the Christmas season with a more grateful heart. But I think it’s especially fitting given that this year, Thanksgiving happens merely a few days before Advent begins.
As we enter into this profound season of spiritual waiting, and what can become a season of earthly stress, I want to share a meditation on gratitude with you. Gratitude is the most powerful gift we’ve been given.
Be grateful to be grateful.
Lord, the gift of being grateful isn’t something I think about too much. But the ability to recognize the power of Your generosity, and understand it as gift—the majesty of that grace cannot be understated. The simple act of being grateful pays respect to the virtue of humility. Let us be thankful that we have a life so overflowing with good things, that we need to recognize how unworthy we are to get them—and yet we do! Rejoice!
Be grateful for the basics.
Lord, I don’t mean to take so many things for granted. When life is easy, though, obliviousness becomes easy, too. Sometimes, even when life is challenging, I forget to be grateful for what I have been given. Whether I’m hustling and bustling with many friends and family to visit this season, or I’m struggling to make ends meet in a financially strapped time of year, let me never forget to say thank you for the basics.
Thank you for warm, clean water. Thank you for washing machines. Thank you for beds and pillows. For doors that lock. For windows that seal away the elements. Thank you for heat in the winter and air conditioning in the summer. For so much food to eat that I reprimand myself for it, instead of basking in the gift of sleeping on a full belly. Thank you for clean air to breathe, and clean water to drink. For clothes and shoes that have no holes.
Lord, thank you that we can call “basic” what only a fraction of the world experiences each day.
Be grateful for your emotions.
Lord, in the course of a day, I feel so many things. I’ve never considered anger or sorrow something to be thankful for. But maybe, God, you’re using these moments of frustration to tamper expectations; and then when something wonderful comes, I get to appreciate it with an unmatched joy. Because I remember what it was like when I was unhappy.
Be grateful for unanswered prayers.
Lord, if you’d given me everything I ever asked for, life would look very different than it does now. In the moments that I feel like I know best, and use my prayers as commands instead of intentions, remind me that you’re the one who knows what you’re doing. Thank you for all of the crushes that didn’t like me back, the jobs that didn’t pan out, the traffic I got stuck in, and the times I’ve been looked over.
I know each of those was an important part of my journey to right where I am right now.
Be grateful. Period.
Last week at Mass, the pastor said, “If Jesus can be betrayed by his friends, facing death, abandoned by love and hope, alone in a garden sweating blood—and still give thanks, then we have no reason to do any less.”
May this time of year serve as simply a launching pad towards a lifestyle of gratitude. Start and end each day asking yourself this important question:
What would I have now, if I only had what I was thankful for yesterday?