If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, "thank you," that would suffice. ~Meister Eckhart
I am not real big on the “traditional” myth of Thanksgiving with the pilgrims and Indians . . . the real story is too gruesome and heartbreaking to buy into that first Thanksgiving—ask any Native American. Yet, here I am taking advantage of that observance . . . sitting around the house as it is filled with the aroma of roasting turkey and all the trimmings . . . joking around with the family, laughing, and telling big stories . . . enjoying the beauty of the day. It is a good reprieve from the busyness of daily life . . . a respite of sorts. For this opportunity, I give thanks.
I probably do not say it often enough . . . thank you. Two simple words with the power to change lives with its mere utterance. A verbal acknowledgement of gratefulness for the gifts, blessings, and joys of life that pop into our lives more often than we are aware. I probably do not say it enough . . .
Later the family will gather around the table . . . the meal will have been lovingly prepared . . . and, we will pause for a moment, share what we are thankful for, and give a grace to bless the food . . . then we will dig in. As each member of the family shares his or her words of thanksgiving, we will hear how appreciative folks are for the day, for family, for jobs, and for the food that we are about to eat. At least for one day we will remember to give “thanks” . . . as superficial as it might sound to those gathered around the table. But, will we remember to offer “thanks” tomorrow?
In workshops I have conducted I have discovered that if I ask people to brainstorm ideas that all of them can easily come up with five or six items to share. Typically the group pretty much produces the same list of items. Those are the “pat” answers that all of us know . . . thanks for the day, family, friends, and food. To really get at some fresh and new ideas I challenge those in the workshops I conduct to come up with a list of fifteen to twenty ideas . . . to take the time to really consider the issue . . . to get beyond the obvious and encounter the life of the challenge. Around the table on Thanksgiving Day we rarely get beyond the obvious, but I believe there is so much more to give “thanks” for as we pause on this day to “give thanks”. Thus it is that I and probably everyone else do not give “thanks” often enough.
I want to acknowledge that I am: thankful for today (it is beautiful, yet chilly day in Montana and the mountains are marvelous); thankful for the family that has gathered for I truly love them (and I miss the ones that could not be with us—we are not quite complete); thankful for the food that we are going to eat (despite the fact that turkey is pretty close to chicken on foods that have over-extended their welcome in my diet); and, thankful for having a job, friends, good health, a functioning brain (those there are those who question this one), and a winning football team in the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers (I can say that today as they don’t play until tomorrow). To these, I say “thank you”.
But . . . is it enough? Probably not.
As I have scanned Facebook, Twitter, and various other social media and blogs, I have been impressed with the things and people that have been given “thanks” today. With those examples of gratefulness I want to also say “thanks” to: my impetus for the ministry—Bob Chance, who has been loving and supportive of me and the ministry I have chosen—even though we have not always been in the same zip code geographically or theologically . . . I would not be here today if it were not for his belief in me; to those individual friends over the years—Wayne, Tom, Ken, Jim, and Dave . . . individuals who stood by me, played with me, dreamed with me, and put up with me . . . and are still there today even though none of live near each other. I am thankful for my wife who has stood beside me even when I did not want to stand beside myself . . . she is loving, challenging, and big hearted. I am thankful for our new family members and the host of extended family that have been brought into my life . . . they have raised the bar of hospitality and love for each of us . . . and, they are a lot of fun to hang around with. For a granddaughter known . . . and, unknown. Sometimes in life we are not dealt the cards as we are expecting them, but we still have to play them . . . for Harper and the joy she has brought—thank you . . . for Emily, there is still that to come in time.
The list could go on and on and on . . . and unfortunately someone will be left off . . . but, not forgotten.
God has blessed me with life . . . with a life filled with adventure . . . with mystery . . . and with lots to contemplate and be thankful for . . . good and bad, God has blessed me. For life, I give “thanks” to God. Unlike my wife and many of my clergy friends, I am not a great poetic person of prayer . . . I struggle with my public prayers . . . but, I try. I try to take to heart the simplest of all prayers . . . to say, “Thank you!” Probably not enough . . . but, I try. For this day, for this life, for all the people in my life . . . I give “thanks!” Thank you, Lord for this day and every day . . .
It is a simple prayer: “Thank you!” May we all remember it tomorrow and in the days to come.