“We go through life parched and empty… standing knee deep in a river, dying of thirst.”
I heard those words, sung by Kathy Mattea, and thought about the deep truth embedded in them. The goodness of life surrounds us. The Holy One surrounds us. That which can nourish our souls and cause us to cry out in wonder surrounds us. Yet we are perfectly capable of walking through life feeling a holey piece of Swiss cheese, searching for that which will fill the empty place in us and quench our thirst for that magical drink to sustain us. We’ve forgotten how to see and we’ve forgotten how to dip our cup into the water around us.
(For the full audio version, click here.)
The brink of Thanksgiving Day is the perfect time to remember that living life with gratitude is like constantly scooping water into our cup and drinking heartily. Let’s face it, we could all be a lot better about being grateful for all that we have. Beauty, blessing, love, hope, abundance, joy and light are all around us, but we often take them for granted, or we’re so caught up in our egos and troubles that we can’t see them. Plus the commercial advertising industry is doing its best to make us believe that our appreciation should be about things we have, or at this time of the year, things we can get for a really good deal. But true appreciation feeds the soul and lightens the heart.
In Philippians 4:7-9, Paul has a nice little five point formula that we might find helpful.
- Rejoice for God is near!
- Dismiss anxiety because why would we worry if God is near?
- Present our needs through prayer (trusting that God is near and will take care of us).
- Give thanks “in” not “for” all the circumstances of our lives (thus lifting us out of our problems for the moment, giving the Divine a chance to work because we’ve let go of control for a second, and giving us a slightly more positive perspective on life which is good).
- Find peace, the kind that only God can give (because if we’re so focused on being worried and anxious about many things, we’re back to standing knee deep in water dying of thirst!)
I know it is all much more difficult than Paul makes it sound. Authentic gratitude (not just saying the words) takes practice. So, what would happen if you tried for one day – just ONE day – to live in a space of gratitude? No matter what your circumstances may be, could you try to focus on being grateful for a day? Let go of your worries and anxieties. Let go of your expectations and need to control. Let go of the things that go “wrong”. Recognize the life-giving river that you are standing in. Dip your cup in the water and drink. I encourage you to try it… maybe even on Thanksgiving day. Hmmm… now there’s an interesting concept.