Thanksgiving gratitude

Gratitude is at the heart of prayer. At the celebration of the Eucharist, we proclaim that we are “always and everywhere to give you thanks.” In good times, we have much to give thanks for. And in these days where we are so aware of violence in our world, being thankful is especially important, for this mindful awareness reminds us that there is much for which to hope. There is still so much goodness in the world: the beauty of nature, the love of family and friends, the everyday small actions that we can witness around us in our world, even between strangers–these are gifts to us, too. Even when we are far from family or other loved ones, the love that we have known from them remains with us, because all loving relationship exist within God, who is eternally present to us. I will be phoning our extended family, who are too far away to visit on such a short break, reflecting on loved ones who have gone on to God before us, and friends who are far away. Meanwhile, we will be hosting a few friends and enjoying a meal together. Life changes but love remains.

Since Advent is rapidly approaching, I’ve also been undertaking a practice suggested to me a few years ago: an Examen of the entire last (church calendar) year. Since I journal extensively, it’s been interesting to reread what the last year has looked like, and all the graces and gifts and change in the year. There is much to give thanks for in the past year, and especially God’s ever present, faithful friendship and intimacy, and awareness of many instances where love has been both given and received.

Advent is a new beginning, and starting with gratitude for the blessings of this past year is a good way to enter into whatever new invitations God might be calling us to.