Giving Thanks

“Is everyone unhappy?” the child Lovejoy was to ask Vincent in despair.

Vincent said, “Everyone,” but after a moment, when he had thought, he added, “That doesn’t prevent them from being happy.”

An Episode of Sparrows, Rummer Godden

For the last week I’ve been reading about people in the US who are gearing up for Thanksgiving. I feel far away and detached, an interested on-looker, fascinated by the movements and ruminations of people doing something I’m not.

When our family moved to Ireland in April of ’96, I was homesick now and then but the worst moment was on the first Thanksgiving Day. It had been my favourite holiday, because it was simple and happy, and now no one even gave a nod to it. I was devastated and felt sure that this was a heartless, cruel, God-less place to live.

Now, 13 years later, it’s ok. Thanksgiving as a holiday seems like a foreign entity, like part of another lifetime (which it is), like something I can be an observer in without being a participator. And, because I don’t have to be at work til this evening, it’s sort of like a holiday anyhow, only without turkey and cranberries, and I’m ok with that.

Part of the change of heart has come about because of the passing of time. Other people and priorities precede the importance I once placed on my favourite holiday. Now, Thanksgiving is something I try to observe daily.

Every night, before I let myself turn off the light, I harness my memory to eek out and write down at least one thing that I’m thankful for, one thing that happened that day in which I heard God say “I love you” to me. It is the best, most helpful spiritual discipline in my life. It is the one thing I urge everyone to do, and is required of my students in Godly Womanhood class. My Thanks Journal is a tangible record of many intangible things. It turns my mind to God instead of letting me dwell on all that makes me unhappy. It reminds me of God’s faithfulness and my dependency on Him. Sometimes I think a long time before deciding what to write but that’s not God’s fault.

Today I am thankful for:
-the toasty warm evening and sibling camaraderie last night at my brother’s house
-a pleasant job environment
-books and pens and my laptop
-sparkling good health after a year’s illness
-girlfriends who I can call whenever I need a sounding board and wise words
-Godly men who believe in my book project and support my calling to teach
-my parents who have ‘marinated’ me with life-priorities of love and service
-dreams and ambitions and plans
-grandfathers whose worlds are big, and who forged a path that led beyond their ‘back forty’
-God, who in all times and in all ways, showers peace and joy in dews of blessing

2 thoughts on “Giving Thanks

  1. Ha…you described my feelings this Thanksgiving, as an “interested on-looker.” Strange, isn’t it, how moving to another country makes one realize that one’s home country isn’t the centre of all civilization. :S I think I felt that more acutely when I first moved to Canada, so maybe it prepared me a bit for a move across the ocean.

    Happy Thanksgiving anyway! 🙂

  2. I needed this…HAVE needed something to get me off my negative thinking pattern lately. The spiritual discipline you talked about might be just the thing. And maybe I can start right now . . . even if it’s not bedtime. Blessings!

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