I remember my grandmother always used to say if you dont know what to pray just say thank you. Giving thanks recognises that our achievements are not fully our own, that there may be many others that play a part in everything we have. And how easy it is to forget the part of others in our lives? Its so easy to feel satisfied with life when we look at all the things we have around us. Thanksgiving as a spiritual practice reminds us that all our gifts are communal as well individual. Our creativity and freedom, our ability to choose the good, have their origins in forces larger than ourselves; God, this earth, and people who have guided, protected, inspired, and nurtured us.
Its very difficult these days to give thanks for something we take for granted the food on our plates. Yet at this time of Harvest it’s traditional to do this. But we have abundance, food in our cupboards and freezers the just in case and the treats. The ability to have the food we want when we want it regardless of how far it has to travel and how many livelihoods have been affected producing it and getting to our supermarkets shelves. So this may be a wonderful time of year to reflect on our good fortunes, if giving thanks is about communal gifts as well as individual ones, could we buy less air freighted food to save our world from more pollution? Could we buy a fair traded product instead of a big brand to support the livelihood of those who may be producing food at a personal cost to themselves? Could you give thanks for the wonderful foods we have before us? All this makes us more aware of all the good things around us
There was a lady in my previous church; she died last year aged 90. She said every time she walked down the road she gave thanks for all she saw and everything she had in her life, yet she had heart disease and arthritis, yet she said she never ran out of things to be thankful for. Her simple practice of giving thanks shaped how she lived her life, faced ageing, and related to others.
Thank you can be said over and over again not just to God for the gifts of this day, but to everyone whose life affects yours. Such gratitude opens us to new blessings, but more importantly opens our hands to bless others, through a kind word as well as our time and gifts.
In Christ, Helen Baber, Curate