A number of years ago, a friend's wife died quite unexpectedly. It was devastating. Yet in the midst of grief, my friend found so many things to be thankful for: their life together, their love, their travels, their families, their faith, their friends, the medical community, the care of their congregation and God's goodness to them. His almost immediate response of gratitude will last long in my memory.
He wasn't sugar-coating her death or trying to wiggle out of the grief journey, and we (Bob and I) shared many tears with him. Instead, he simply found gratitude as a helpful way to process the death of his beloved. His approach is a powerful witness.
Such gratitude is a gift of God and an indicator of spiritual health. Even in the midst of hard and difficult things, there is room for gratitude.
November is the month for Thanksgiving. If we're fortunate, we'll gather in some sort of celebration. Food and beverages, stories and maybe some football will be part of our time together. In the midst of it, I hope, will be time for gratitude.
Why does gratitude matter? Beyond just being good manners to say "thank you," gratitude orients our hearts in the right direction. Gratitude connects us to the Giver; in our case, God. Gratitude takes us out of ourselves and reminds us that we are not alone.
Gratitude can also be a powerful antidote to greed and selfishness that can become all-consuming and make us bitter and envious, instead of thankful and grateful.
During the week of gratitude that starts Nov. 18 (see story on right), St. Tim's will use various media to help create a "St. Tim's Says Thanks" collection.
People will be invited to share things they're thankful for by using pictures, words, a Facebook thread on the church Facebook page and in conversation.
As our hearts turn to a special emphasis on gratitude, let's find ways to celebrate together all we have to be thankful for, including this very special congregation.