The early settlers in America had the right idea to have one day dedicated to giving thanks to God for all He had blessed them with. It started out with all the right sentiments, then with time, started gathering all sorts of habits, that became rituals, that became traditions. Families getting together, eating turkey, playing/watching sports, and finally the traditional family flare-ups. Sometimes, in the middle of all that, some families remember what the whole thing was originally about. Giving thanks to God for all His blessings.
A few years ago, I took it upon myself to start my own Thanksgiving. A very personal and private exercise. It started on a daily basis, then lapsed into a weekly one, over the weekend ‘because during the week I was always harried for time in trying to get to work on time’, then lapsed into once a month, if I remembered. Now it is random and only when something really shakes me up.
Just recently, a passing phrase by a friend, reminded me of that years old resolution, reminded me about how ungrateful I have been, how remiss I was in not giving thanks for all I am blessed with. I got caught up in my little whirlpool of life, everyday little hassles, bigger problems, tasks, obligations, vacations, taxes, shopping … the list is endless, just life.
But now is the time to go back to that resolution, to that simple act of talking to God, of letting Him know that I am grateful for all He has blessed me with, and at the same time remind myself of all that I have to be grateful for.
The exercise I devised is very simple. The moment I wake up, and start giving myself those essential extra five minutes before getting up, I line up my thoughts to start with the thanksgiving exercise. I don’t start with a set list, that would be self defeating, it would turn it into a litany, a tradition, that would eventually lose its meaning. I usually start with the one major difficulty I have or am going through, then turn it around. For example right now I am having a huge problem with the electricity in the house. There is not a day passes when I don’t have a problem pertaining to electricity. At four this morning, I had to get up to switch everything off because the stabilizer, which had just come back yesterday after being fixed, was turning on and off on its own and making the most alarming noises. I started to worry, but then stopped. Came to a full, screeching halt. What am I doing? Where is my sense of proportion? I should be grateful I have a home, I have electricity in that home (well on and off), I was able to buy a stabilizer to regulated said occasional electricity, and that I have the ability to call people, who are available to come and help me with the problem. By the time I reached that point, the problem had diminished in proportion, it was no longer the life-shaking, overwhelming problem it was, it just turned into an inconvenience.
My greatest problem with this thanksgiving exercise is turning the loss of a loved one into something I can thank God for. In certain cases this still eludes me. The reason for it, the why, is never satisfactorily answered. I do not subscribe to the idea of God’s punishment, for to me, my God is one of all encompassing love, forgiveness, solace, warmth, beauty and joy. So I cannot reconcile the pain of loss, with all that. It will come, I am sure, when I least expect it. It will just be there and I shall know. Till then, I deal with the comparatively minor problems of living, which at the time, appear so large, that only by turning them around into blessings, can I ever deal with them.
Thank you God for the blessing of rational thought, the blessing of an imagination that opens up worlds to me, for the blessing of the therapeutic ability to express myself, the blessing of drawing in breath, of being able to get out of bed and walk around unaided and without pain, the blessing of people who I love and who love me, the blessing of safety from the malicious whims of fate, and for the biggest blessing of all, the spiritual transparency that enables me to appreciate and be grateful for all the above.