Archived Story

The attitude of gratitude

Published 5:16pm Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Many approaches can be taken to express some of the pledges, words employed, feelings, and even body language — that reflect the Thanksgiving season. For a moment, set aside the heightened attention to the commercial focus. Many of us are enthralled with wall-to-wall shopping, travel, and reconnecting with the families we love — and miss!

G.K. Chesterton, the English literary giant and commentator on religious themes, gains our attention through insight, wit, and humor with practical implications. Chesterton has written: “Children are grateful to Santa Claus for filling their stockings with toys.” Then a question: “Why aren’t those same parents grateful to God for filling the children’s stockings with legs?”

Gratitude is one of the most primary qualities of a person with character that all of us admire. While we all wish for a veto on greed, a damper on minds that take too much for granted, admiration is abundant in the presence of a grateful person.

Among a cluster of character traits, gratitude is one that is like a foundation to all of communications, manners of work, and response to reversals that punctuate most lives.

An attitude of appreciation is won by attentiveness, struggle, forgiveness, goal-setting, acknowledging the “little people,” and not being intimidated by those who may be — as they say — more elevated in the pecking order!

Two books that I am currently reading challenge my thinking in these days and the “official day” we historically term Thanksgiving. This splendid call to reminiscing on our country’s history and inviting us to, in fact, be a grateful nation, is so utterly necessary! The book, Taking Jesus At His Word, by Addison H. Hart, is a commentary on the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 4:17-5:12). It lifts out a major theme. In addressing each of the verses and examples given, the author notes in his application over and over, that it is the attitude or posture of the heart that brings empowerment to the teachings of Jesus. It can be summarized, in my attempt to practice these words: The attitude of gratitude, is what grows and sustains a humane way of life.

In the book, The Bishop’s Voice, John Shelby Spong, writing out of the Episcopal Church tradition, keys in on a similar emphasis: Out of the heart, the deepest sincere intention and practice creates a spiritual life. In summary, the various chapters of this volume, state that religion as religion is but dry dust. Thanksgiving has currents from an overflowing, positive inner life. A life managed and manifested by an appreciation of just being here, grants a bounty of praise. What sustains one’s soul, is the art of just plain looking around and saying: “Splendid! In spite of everything, life is good!”

The attitude we bring to our lives, our families, our workplace, our community involvement, our prayer and singing, is so fundamental, that we may lose our souls or gain our lives, given the measure of the honesty and practice of Thanksgiving. It may be enhanced by just watching the flutter of wings at a bird feeder.

We place one foot in front of the other (a metaphor?) in a spirit of profound satisfaction when we know from our hearts, that the attitude of gratitude is our best friend.

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