“When I choose happiness, I am not denying the pain of this world. I am refusing to give into it.”
Jennifer Dukes Lee, ‘The Happiness Dare’
Brother David Steind-Rast
“Gratitude is an opener of locked up blessings.”
1 Thess 5:18
My Prayer today is thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is not always the same as gratitude. We are grateful for our blessings – we are grateful for what warms and soothes us, feeds and strengthens us, that brings joy and security and pleasure. We are grateful for those who make us feel good – competent, worthy and valuable, appreciated. While we often reel at those things that chill us, scare us and drain us, those things that disempower and unsettle us. We recoil from those who cause us to feel bad – incompetent, unworthy or disrespected. We are grateful for the blessings that identify themselves as such, while in truth our power lies in being thankful for the challenges and the blessings that come in disguise. The things that really grow and stretch us, and ultimately strengthen us. The ability to look for and find the image of Christ in everyone, even those who upset us. Like iron sharpens iron we are made stronger for the frictions we endure. And as my friend Jenneth Graser reminds me in her beautiful poem, ‘The Layers of Thanksgiving’, as we shed the layers to reveal the true treasures for which we should be thankful, we shed our immature selves and grow into the full measure of maturity.
as you shrug back the curtains into the view.
Stop for a moment, remain.
Peel back the layers of thanksgiving:
1. everything beautiful in your past to be grateful for.
Delve deeper and you find:
2. the painful things that have shaped your life for good.
Go into a new layer and you find:
3. the small, seemingly insignificant things that make a difference.
Deeper again, peel off another layer:
4. gratitude for the present moment.
Then you become thankful for:
5. the patience you learn through irritations.
6. the challenging people who teach you to love and forgive.
7. the big things you often take for granted.
Then you discover thanks for:
8. the best that is yet to come.
The emotion of gratitude takes over
and you realise the layers won’t ever stop,
because at the ever-unveiling heart of thanksgiving you find,
9. the spirit of contentment.