Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Impulse to Thank

Since before recorded history began, man has had an instinct to thank. Most often, this looked like what you and I would likely label superstition: the top 3 recipients of thanks would probably be ancestors, invisible spirits or deities, and nature -- whether the stars, the universe, or Mother Earth.

Not that thanks is necessarily an innate habit we practice on a regular basis. It's frankly rare to find someone who has a continual "attitude of gratitude." But when something goes particularly well, when the outcome of a dicey situation is the one we were hoping for, or, as if often the case with me, when we're overwhelmed by beauty, we find ourselves wanting to thank...something, someone.

It's even built into our language, although long gone are the days when the spontaneous expression "Thank God!" was always meant literally. Those who are uncomfortable uttering the name of a deity substitute "goodness" or "lucky stars." The point is, it's practically impossible to escape at least an occasional sense of thankfulness.

For my part, even in the seasons of my life where I was determined to carry a grudge against God because my life didn't look like I wanted it to, I have found myself unwittingly thanking him for a sunset that took my breath away. Or sons who are wise enough to choose amazing young wives for themselves.Or a Discovery Channel documentary that showcases the exquisite marvels of the planet we live on. And no matter how I have felt toward God at any given moment, I have personally never been able to thank the Big Bang for these things. It is a goal of mine to be thankful a whole lot more of the time; in the meantime, I'm just a part time God thanker.

Coming up is a day that was set aside by President Lincoln (see my post on the history of Thanksgiving here) specifically to give thanks for our blessings. While some may ignore the thanksgiving part and just enjoy the food, football or family part -- and others may care nothing about the day and resent the fact that everything is closed -- I will be glad there is a day we are reminded that there is always something to be grateful for. And once we start listing the blessings, it may actually be difficult to stop.

Thank God.

1 comment:

kathy said...


I think regardless of where we are with our belief in somethng greater than ourselves, we cannot help but realize the things in life that take our breath away deserve a thank you. I recently posted on my blog how we tend to be grateful for what we have forgetting that what we didn't get is often a bigger blessing.