Monday, October 8, 2007
There are some who advocate an “attitude of gratitude” because of the benefits it offers for one’s emotional health. The more grateful you are, goes the thinking, the happier you will be. And I’m sure this is at least partly true. Recognizing the things that often go unnoticed and giving thanks for them surely deepens our sense of wonder and our joy at what it means to be human. But what about giving thanks when things are hard? Giving thanks when we don’t get what we want, when we are lonely, when we despair?
There is a song by Nicole Nordeman called “Gratitude” in which she describes giving thanks if we never get rain, daily bread, safety, peace—giving thanks for lessons learned in hungering and thirsting after God. A friend recently told me that anyone who hungers and thirsts after righteousness will find herself restless and ill at ease much of the time. But what other way is there to be?
The joy of this kind of restlessness comes in the times when in spite of circumstances, we find ourselves drawn in to caring conversation, find ourselves unaccountably moved to tears by the gentleness of men singing, find ourselves filled with the sense that though we are thirsty and hungry, we are not alone.
So this Canadian Thanksgiving day, I am grateful for brothers and sisters on the journey. I am grateful for times of absence and how they make me appreciate presence more. I am grateful for tears. And if nothing else, I am grateful for a heart still alive enough to burn.