Thanksgiving feels different this year. So many people are sick and so many have died. COVID has played havoc with traditions and gatherings. Family and friends are not able to get together. Churches and schools have gone virtual. The joy of parades and the excitement of starting Christmas shopping has been replaced by anxious worries and fears. Some store shelves are bare, businesses are closing, people are losing jobs, and opportunities are being put on-hold. Yes, Thanksgiving feels different this year.
How do we celebrate Thanksgiving in the middle of a pandemic? How can we be thankful right now? Brother David Steindl-Rast, a Benedictine Monk and frequent contributor to www.gratefulness.org, offers some insight. “Can you be grateful for everything? No. But [you can] in every moment.”
It seems he tells us that we don’t have to be thankful for the virus, for sickness and death. We don’t have to be happy about closed restaurants and cancelled sporting events and missed family gathering. But, Brother David reminds us that we can still be grateful. “Whatever life gives to you, you can respond with joy. Joy is the happiness that does not depend on what happens. It is the grateful response to the opportunity that life offers you at this moment.”
This is not easy. It doesn’t feel right to be joyful and grateful in these moments. It doesn’t seem natural. Yet, it is in our nature to be grateful in all things. We were made for that. St. Paul tells us in his first letter to the Thessalonians that we are to “rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). No matter our situation, we can be thankful because God has blessed us and is continuingly blessing us. We might not feel it or understand it but God never stops pouring love upon the earth. God is faithful and uses every moment to draw us close. In this we can be thankful.
“We are never more than one grateful thought away from peace of heart.”
– Brother David Steindly-Rast
Quotes found at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/4182.David_Steindl_Rast