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Unearthing Thanksgiving

I am thinking back to our first Thanksgiving here in Portland. We had been here three months. Everything felt very strange. We were facing a holiday gathering that included family and friends. Of course, we had no family here, just the five of us. So, we gathered a group of expats, as we call anyone with roots in Britain or thereabouts, and for many years had a group of five to six families for Thanksgiving dinner; usually about 30 people filled our house with laughter and gratitude. Maybe it took leaving everything familiar to awaken us to the possibility that, among so much loss, we could find a way to celebrate the gifts of friendship.

Did you grow up in a family that said grace or gave thanks before a meal? The thanks could include thanks for being together; thanks for the hands that prepared the meal; thanks for the food and the farmers involved in growing it-- with the right child, this could go on for a while!

Have you ever paused to think of those words, “give thanks” or “grace”?

I just realized that “thanks” is thus a gift—a gift we can give back to the greatest Giver of all; a gift we can give to one another. And that word “grace”? Grace is a way of acknowledging that everything we have is a gift. The food on the table? The money to buy it? Your job? Your ability to work your job, mentally and physically? And then, thinking back to that wise child’s “grace”, all the people involved in getting that food to your table!

Is something stirring within you? Is there an invitation from God here?

How do you cultivate a life of thanksgiving? It takes time to grow-- the only thing in our control is our perspective, the willingness to see through a different lens.

There are so many things we take for granted, so many gifts that fill even the most ordinary day.

Each day is filled with experiences that can bring stress or delight…

the choice you have is to be open to the presence of God with you and thus, to see each daily task through the eyes of love.

Can you load the dishwasher with love

for those who dirtied the dishes?

Can you vacuum your carpets with love

for the dog that constantly sheds?

Can you live through your day with gratitude for all you have

and all you're able to do?

“We're surrounded,” the writer to the Hebrews tells us, “by a great crowd of witnesses”.

Can you lift your eyes and ears to hear the angels cheering as you choose…

to respond rather than to react…

to forgive rather than to hold a grudge…

to allow God's love to fill you even when you're angry with yourself?

Can you allow the mundane, the routine tasks, to be filled with joy as you invite God's presence?

Ann Voskamp, in her book One Thousand Gifts challenges and encourages us to count our blessings daily:

“There is hope and transformative power in counting our blessings and naming the good gifts of God-- because we encounter the power of God himself in our lives. If you want to discover the rhythms of grace, joy, and true thankfulness, count the gifts God has given and the ones he is giving you even at this moment.

Write them down, express them in words, notice them, and celebrate each one.”

God’s invitation for you is to notice, to be aware, to be awake—to see with different eyes all that is around you.

I encourage you to begin a list of things you are thankful for each day. Get a new journal and dedicate it to this!

I end my day looking back on the day and writing my thanks—my goal is three a day, but usually the list grows to six or seven—I smile as I think of each person who has touched my life that day and the gift of each.

And on a grey day, I can go back and read what I wrote weeks earlier, and the light of love shines through for me.

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