I was asked to re-run (and I quote), “That column you wrote for Thanksgiving a few years ago.” I am not sure what column the reader referred to (I’ve penned a lot of Thanksgiving columns in 37-plus years), but I think it might be this one. If not, sue me. It’s one of my favorites.
Historically speaking, this is the time of year, the one day of 365, we set aside to be thankful for graces bestowed. And, it is no secret it will be harder for some to be thankful this year.
There has been loss of love; much financial calamity; emotional pain; too much suffering — and, I’m just being selfish and talking about me! There is a great sea of sadness surrounding us we all must navigate. I feel lucky that my sails are still taut with wind provided by someone other than myself. I’m blessed my ship moves forward, still.
When folks ask me, “How’re you doing?” most times I respond with, “Better than I deserve.” For I know I haven’t suffered nearly as those who are more deserving of grace than me. Yes, I see their burdens are greater. I feel their pain, truer. So, I am thankful to be doing better than I deserve.
Here are some printed words that keep my boat afloat, and maybe they can help you from being adrift.
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“Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful.” — Buddha
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…. It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.” — Melodie Beattie
“Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace and gratitude.” — Denis Waitley
“The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings.” — Eric Hoffer
“The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving.” — H.U. Westermayer
“To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live gratitude is to touch Heaven.” — Johannes A. Gaertner
“God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say, thank you?” — William A. Ward
“Silent gratitude isn’t much use to anyone.” — G.B. Stern
“There is no such thing as gratitude unexpressed. If it is unexpressed, it is plain, old-fashioned ingratitude.”— Robert Brault
And, finally a poem, or prayer, if you will:
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Let me do my work each day;
And if the darkened hours of despair overcome me,
May I not forget the strength that comforted me
In the desolation of other times.
May I still remember the bright hours that found me
Walking over the silent hills of my childhood,
Or dreaming on the margin of the quiet river,
When a light glowed within me,
And I promised my early God to have courage
Amid the tempests of the changing years.
Spare me from bitterness
And from the sharp passions of unguarded moments.
May I not forget that poverty and riches are of the spirit.
Though the world may know me not,
May my thoughts and actions be such
As shall keep me friendly with myself.
Lift my eyes from the earth,
And let me not forget the uses of the stars.
Forbid that I should judge others,
Lest I condemn myself.
Let me not follow the clamor of the world,
But walk calmly in my path.
Give me a few good friends who will love me for what I am
And keep ever burning before my vagrant steps
The kindly light of hope.
And though age and infirmity overtake me,
And I come not within sight of the castle of my dreams,
Teach me still to be thankful for life,
And for times olden memories that are good and sweet;
And may the evening’s twilight find me gentle still.
–Max Ehrmann (1872 – 1945)