November 24, 2011 by Jay Kim
If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is ‘thank you’, it will be enough. - Meister Eckhart
It’s important for us to remember today that the etymology of the word Thanksgiving points us to the act of giving thanks. Tradition tells us that in October of 1621 the Plymouth Colony Pilgrims and the Massasoit Native Americans came together to celebrate and give thanks for a good harvest that year. But they did not give thanks only to one another. At the center of their celebration was the understanding that there was a divine reality to whom they ought to give thanks. If you’ve ever done any sort of significant research into the theology of the early Pilgrims or Native Americans, you probably have reservations about their respective views of the divine. If you’ve ever looked into the theology of Meister Eckhart, you probably have reservations about his theology as well. But all of that is beside the point.
What matters most, especially today, is that we celebrate our ability and responsibility to give thanks. The reality is that thanks is ours to give. In giving thanks, we release the gratitude inside of us. Whether you know it or not, even in those moments when we feel most bitter and angry and ungrateful, there is still gratitude in our hearts. It resides in that deeply innate part of our souls. It’s that place we went often as children, when the seemingly small things of life seemed infinitely large and even the most insignificant pleasure was a miraculous gift. When we tap into this part of ourselves and release this inner gratitude by giving thanks, it is as though our gratitude fills the atmosphere, covering the skies like stars, inspiring and humbling us, leaving us awed and in wonder. But when this gratitude sits dormant inside of us, it quickly atrophies into a form of decaying cynicism, making us bitter and apathetic. Without releasing this gratitude in our hearts, it will be impossible for us to enjoy anything of life. So give thanks. Give thanks to God. Life is a gift and your every breath is as miraculous as your first.