Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow. – Melody Beattie; Gratitude
This past week I had the opportunity to attend Q Commons, a lecture series on the ever evolving shape of our culture. (http://qideas.org) More specifically most of the speakers were focused on the importance of Christianity in shaping our modern culture.
The evening was structured similar to a Tedx event whereby over the course of about 2 hours we heard from 6 individual speakers and were encouraged to interact with the rest of the people in attendance to build on what we were hearing. Of the 6 speakers by far the most impactful for me was the live video feed of Ann Voscamp, author of the bestselling book “One Thousand Gifts; A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are.” Her nine minute talk was on the topic, what does it mean to be known by gratitude?
As Voscamp put it; “The virtue of gratitude is what lies at the heart of community ethics.” If we want to shape our culture with a sense of grace, peace and mercy, what Christians refer to as the fruits of the spirit, we need to start by saying Thank You. Thank You first to God but also to one another and to our own selves for the things we do to keep ourselves sane.
Saying thank you forces us to look up and acknowledge the people around us. By looking at people we cannot help but see them and seeing people for who they are is the first step in acknowledging their humanity. All humanity is made in the image of God. When you see people for who they truly are you are looking at God.
As Claude-Michel Schonberg put it when writing the lyrics to the musical Les Miserables, “To Love another person is to see the face of God.”
I’ve written on gratitude before. In my book “Meekonomics; How to Inherit the Earth and Live Life to the Fullest in God’s Economy,” I wrote that gratitude is the antidote for the sin of jealousy. When you can say thank you for what you have, you don’t have as much energy to worry about the things other people have. The commandment, “Thou Shall Not Covet” is really the negative form of “Be Thankful.”
This is Thanksgiving weekend in Canada. I think that the fact that we Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving 6 weeks earlier than our American neighbours makes us nicer people. I know that’s not the case but it is obvious to me that the more thankful you are, the more you show gratitude in your daily life, the happier you will be. Thanksgiving should be more than just one day. It should be a lifestyle.
So what are you thankful for?