November 21, 2010
Good afternoon, friends,
It seems to me that Thanksgiving produces an odd combination of behavioral absurdity and good advice. Who can argue against a day dedicated to deliberate focused gratitude? But who can explain the logic of our culturally crafted absurdity of linking gratitude with an orgy-level of consumption? What is logical about celebrating the life-sustaining gift of food by eating too much? How does it make sense to follow this over-the-top consumption with a day in which gratitude for goods and materials is marked by a head-long rush into a massive shopping binge? Eating too much seems to me an odd way to be thankful for food; buying more "stuff" seems an equally odd way to be thankful for what we have.
Now having elected myself the Blogging Thanksgiving Scrooge, a note, the usual these days, about change.
Gratitude, rightly considered, is a conscious deliberate attitude of thankfulness. When gratitude is accompanied by an emotionally logical recognition of the object for which we choose to be grateful, such thankfulness can be--almost always is--a powerful change agent. We tend to respond joyfully to those things for which we are grateful.
Had an interesting lesson this week in regard to this kind of change.
One fine afternoon I devised an adventure for myself and my walking stick, but before the adventure ended I had to cross what was for me some difficult terrain. A young woman came running up behind me as I was making my last assault on some Mt. Everest type stairs; she waited patiently until I had labored my way to the top. Then, seeing that I had safely arrived, she ran in graceful easy strength to the top of the stairs without taking a second breath. When she reached me, she stopped a moment to speak.
"Isn't it wonderful to be able to walk?" she said. Then, with a gracious smile she added, "You're doing rather well," and was off, but the breath of her gratitude changed me.
I had unwisely taken the long way around the lake, and navigating the Mt. Everest type stairs that climbed to the walkway over the dam had been a consequence of that decision. But somehow, my weariness and my impatience with my slow progress began to evaporate. I thought, "It is wonderful to be able to walk. I am grateful--so grateful--to be walking this beautiful autumn day." And in a way I cannot explain I began to feel joyful--joyful about my sturdy shoes, aware joyfully of my beautiful stick that kept me steady, joyfully conscious that in the long cycle of my life I had been granted one more light-filled autumn day and the strength both to go adventuring and to find my tired way home.
It seems to me that gratitude and awareness, not consumption, are the precursors to joy. What do you think?
See you next week.
Seeking with you a more Kingdom-focused life,