This week we celebrate Thanksgiving Day as a National Holiday and truly a holy day reminding us to be aware of all God’s gifts and inviting us to gather with others in friendship and peace to give thanks for all the ways we have been so richly blessed. A Gratitude Week!
Some time ago, someone sent me this poem:
I asked God for strength, that I might achieve.
I was made weak, that I might learn to humbly obey…
I asked for health that I might do great things.
I was given infirmity that might do better things…
I asked for riches that I might be happy,
I was given poverty that I might be wise…
I asked for power, that I might have the praise of others.
I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God…
I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life.
I was given life that I might enjoy all things…
I got nothing I asked for, but everything I had hoped for.
Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.
I am, among (wo)men, most richly blessed!
Reading and pondering this helped me see that my gratitude and spirit of Thanksgiving had a lot of room to grow. It takes some reflecting on our life experiences in the light of our faith and God’s promises to see how God’s ways of blessing us has gone far deeper and beyond answering our prayers for things we think we want.
Thomas Merton once wrote: “To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything [God] has given us – and [God] has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of [God’s] love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from God. Gratitude therefore takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise of the goodness of God. For the grateful person knows that God is good, not by hearsay but by experience. And that is what makes all the difference.”
Recently, our Dominican Associates of Peace Annual Retreat was held at our Dominican Retreat in McLean, Virginia. Associates and Sisters from across the country gathered to pray and reflect together on our common call to ministry and ways our “ego” can derail us in our efforts to do good. It was a graced time both joyful in the faith sharing and community building, and bitter sweet in the realization that this would be the last retreat held at this retreat house before its closing this coming December. I was struck by the card that the McLean Sisters and Associates gave us before we departed. It read:
“For all that has been – Thanks! For all that will be – Yes!”
– Dag Hammarskjold
To be able to say that sincerely in the face of something as painful as letting go of such a beautiful sacred space filled with such rich memories, spoke to me of a living faith that burrowed deep into and permeated every happening and circumstance occurring in ones life, pointing to a Gracious God whom Jesus called “Abba” and described as the Good Shepherd.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said it well: “Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”
The Dominican Sisters and Associates of Peace invite you who read this blog to look for the hidden areas of grace in your life so that your Thanksgiving may well up from deep wellsprings of hope throughout this Gratitude Week, and then may it blossom into a life filled with gratitude.