When Gratitude Comes Hard

At the Interfaith Thanksgiving service held on Tuesday night, I shared this brief reflection on gratitude, the theme of the service.  May you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

As the autumn deepens, winter is on its way, we prepare to gather with family and friends for a festive meal, and be thankful.

And yet, my friends, there are days and sometimes seasons when gratitude is hard. This world of ours is beautiful and filled with wonder, but is also broken. And sometimes, gratitude comes hard.

The sense of the apocalypse, with California burning, and it seems daily reports of some possible mass shooter event, and chaos in our political life of one sort or another. If you’re paying attention, you know, that gratitude comes hard.

And in our own lives: the loss this year of beloved ones: friends, family gone too soon. Those who are struggling: no money, no home, mental illness, the diseases that come to the people we love, maybe to you. Invited to give that list of what we are thankful for, sometimes, just sometimes and maybe now, gratitude comes hard.

From Rabbi Rachel Barenblat, who blogs under the name the Velveteen Rabbi, I learned the chant that she sings in the mornings when she rises, modah/modeh ani, the tune is her own, I think. It is a prayer of gratitude with which she begins every day, and suggested that at times when the gratitude comes hard, we should sing and pray not our gratitude, but our belief and trust that gratitude will come soon.

In this season, as we come into these winter holidays, let us praise and lift our hearts for what we have, those gifts and blessings that don’t come in fancy paper,

  • but that come from the warmth of a hand, the smile of a stranger,
  • the baby whose face lights up just for you,
  • the possibility of reconciliation,
  • the promise of love,
  • the goodness in a cup of tea shared,
  • and the gift to put your heart into work that can heal the world,
    or at least one small part of it,
  • and perhaps, especially, for the trust and faith, that gratitude will come
    even when it comes hard.

May the day land gently for you all, may you be surrounded by love this day and always,

Rev Linda