By Paul Ashton, Psy.D., D.Min.
Consultant to the VIRTUS® Programs
"If we can realize that everything is God’s gift, how happy will our hearts be! Everything is his gift. He is our strength! Saying ‘thank you’ is such an easy thing, and yet so hard! How often do we say ‘thank you’ to one another in our families? These are essential words for our life in common.”
This wonderful time of year finds our hearts filled with gratitude. Gathering with family and friends around a table filled with delicious treats makes us giggle with delight. We scan the table and buffet for that one special item that makes the holiday. For me it is the stuffed celery (a New England thing going way back). Without it, the holiday just isn’t the same.
We find comfort in the warmth of our homes with those we love, and find that the low-key (except for those who do all of the food shopping, cooking and cleaning!) approach to the holiday allows us to embrace the holiday with delight. We wear our comfortable stretchy pants, share Grace, pass, share and dig in. Silence starts the meal as mouths are too full to speak anything but an mmmmmm or yum!
Bounty! Thank you, God! We are fortunate, we are blessed and we are rich in ways untold. Not saying a prayer of blessing and gratitude, especially at this time of year is to commit a grave offense. How can we forget the goodness of God and all He has given us?
Some of us are less fortunate, however. Some lack necessities even in the face of the great bounty of others. We must do all we can to share what we have, and no matter how much we have or do not have, we must share nonetheless. Our bounty comes from awareness that all we have comes from God and God alone. God takes care of His own. We are His Hands, and there is no better way to use them during this time of Thanksgiving than to assist those less fortunate than ourselves.
Let us pause to offer prayerful thanks to God for all He has done for us.
We thank You, God, for the gift of life. We are so blessed. May we always be reminded that without You, all is lost.
We thank You, God, for the wonderful world you have given us. It is beautiful and ever changing to reflect your goodness. May we be mindful to care for it each day as it cares for us.
We thank You, God, for our families, for marriage, for love, for friendship, for sharing around the table, and all You send our way to show Your love for us.
We thank You, God, for children, for their constant laughter and their freedom to be creative and curious. May we constantly strive to protect them from any harm and difficulty.
We thank You, God, for our youth and teens and their many challenges, which give us opportunities to show our wisdom. May we ever be mindful of the Hope and promise that is theirs and ours to support and share.
We thank You, God for the ability to grow old, for the elderly, infirm and vulnerable in our lives. They shine so brightly in their honesty and needs. May we never forget what a privilege it is to serve them.
We thank You, God, for our challenges, sorrows, and doubts. Through these dark times we see Your light most clearly. May we strive to accept what comes our way, to be strong through it all, and to be witnesses of Your faithful love always.
We thank You, God, for the gift of joy. For being able to laugh and use humor through the difficult times, and to find joy in the small things that You send our way each day. May we embrace joy as a way of life.
We thank You, God, most especially for your Son Jesus Christ, who lived and died for our salvation and who gave us the great gift of the Church. May we be ever thankful for the great gift of Jesus who brings light to the world each day.
Thank you, thank you thank you, God! Amen.