During the summer of 2019, we invited the parish to read Grateful: The Subversive Practice of Giving Thanks. The author, Diana Butler Bass, wrote about the struggle she had to embrace gratitude in her life, yet also how crucial it was for her to practice being grateful. She wrote a prayer that stuck with me, and it seems like an especially appropriate prayer for Thanksgiving weekend of 2020, when many of us may be having a hard time giving thanks. I hope this slightly amended version will help!
God, there are days we do not feel grateful. When we are anxious or angry. When we feel alone. When we do not understand what is happening in the world or with our neighbors. When the news is bleak, confusing. God, we struggle to feel grateful.
But this Thanksgiving, we choose gratitude.
We choose to accept life as a gift from you, and as a gift from the unfolding work of all creation.
We choose to be grateful for the earth from which our food comes; for the water that gives life; and for the air we all breathe.
We choose to thank our ancestors, those who came before us, grateful for their stories and struggles, and we receive their wisdom as a continuing gift for today.
We choose to see our families and friends with new eyes, appreciating and accepting them for who they are. We are thankful for our homes, whether humble or grand.
We will be grateful for our neighbors, no matter how they voted, whatever our differences, or how much we feel hurt or misunderstood by them.
We choose to see the whole planet as our shared commons, the stage of the future of humankind and creation.
God, this Thanksgiving, we do not give thanks. We choose it. We will make this choice of thanks with courageous hearts, knowing that it is humbling to say “thank you.” We choose to see your sacred generosity, aware that we live in an infinite circle of gratitude. That we all are guests at a hospitable table around which gifts are passed and received. We will not let anything opposed to love take over this table. Instead, we choose grace, free and unmerited love, the giftedness of life everywhere. In this choosing, and in the making, we will pass gratitude onto the world.
Thus, with you present at our table, we pledge to make thanks. We ask you to strengthen us in this resolve. Here, now, and into the future. Around our own table. Around our family table. Around the table of our nation. Around the table of the earth.
We choose thanks.