Gratitude leads to a transformed lifestyle. In gratitude for this good Earth, we are challenged to be stewards of our blessings. Thanksgiving inspires care for the Earth and reverence for its manifold diversity. It also inspires appreciation for our human companions. The Christian scriptures counsel, “Pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17). Ceaseless gratitude brings forth light in you and in all creation.
Some practical suggestions for thanksgiving in action:
Take time to give thanks. Make it real. Don’t just grunt at a checkout clerk, coworker, friend, or family member who has just helped you; take time to say, “Thank you.” Just a few words can transform any situation, moving us from annoyance to understanding, ingratitude to joyful appreciation.
Don’t be half-hearted or stingy in your gratitude; be generous and thank others at every opportunity—for a job well done, for their faithfulness, for breakfast, for good service, for picking up toys, for cleaning their rooms.
Remember people whose support and insight have changed your life for the better—mentors, teachers, parents, friends, pastors, colleagues, spouses and partners, children. If they are still living, take time to send a note of gratitude, post something on Facebook, write an e-mail or text message, or make a phone call. If they are deceased, visualize them in God’s loving arms and give God thanks for their lives, thanking them as well for their importance in your life. In the dynamic and open-ended communion of saints, those who live in God’s everlasting life may very well experience and be enriched by our gratitude.
Mentally or under your breath affirm your grateful connection with others by saying, “The Spirit in me greets the Spirit in You” or the Hindu “Namaste,” “The Divine in me greets the Divine in You.”
Thanksgiving not only blesses the past. It opens the future, connecting us with possibilities and energies and giving us hope and courage in the awareness that we are never alone for God is near.
This post has been adapted from Becoming Fire: Spiritual Practices for Global Christians by Bruce Epperly. Bruce Epperly is Pastor and Teacher at South Congregational Church, Centerville, Massachusetts (http://southcongregationalchurch-centerville.org) and professor in the areas of theology, spirituality, and ministry at Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington D.C. An ordained minister in the United Church of Christ and Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), he is the author of forty books, including The Center is Everywhere: Celtic Spirituality in the Postmodern World and Anamchara Book’s Becoming Fire: Spiritual Practices for Global Christians.