A Word About Thanks
And that word is “Thanks.”
In the United States we have a day set aside for giving thanks.
Media-wise it is overshadowed by Black Friday and the ritual purchase of unnecessaries. And please don’t miss the tasty irony that at least one definition of “Black Friday” pins it as the day of the year when retailers move from financial loss to profit–so here in the U.S. we celebrate the religion of corporate solvency.
But for me Thanksgiving has little to do with buying stuff. Instead, I prefer to see Thanksgiving as a time to pause.
I like the work of Australian philosopher Damon Young, who at the end of his Distraction recommended giving thanks. Though an atheist he still noted that gratitude was a pretty good way of going through life—it ordered things, kept desire at bay and helped set perspective—though I wondered aloud how gratitude works without a being at the other end.
For quite a while I’ve taken cues from a poet-king who penned a number of poems, each deeply infused with gratitude. His poems offered gratitude as a way of ordering life and seeing opportunity and obstacle as part of the whole deal. Unlike the Australian philosopher, the poet-king cited Jehovah as the One to offer thanks to, and he did it again and again. And again. This is typical:
You make the going out of the morning and the evening to shout for joy. (Psalm 65.8b)
The whole poem shows off stuff Jehovah does in the world and it is worth reading (check it here). Interesting that most of the 150 poems (not all written by the poet-king) had very little to do with the ritual purchase of unnecessaries—but our culture won’t rethink that until the next great depression.
Two things strike me about the poet-king’s words:
- Gratitude incites calm. When I meditate on those words, calm happens. I appreciate that. Thanks is a much more potent perspective-maker than desire.
- Gratitude generates a sense of presence. In particular, the poet-king had the sense of taking a seat at table with the very One. Invited by Jehovah. And that is pretty cool stuff.
I’m grateful for Mrs. Kirkistan and for our kids, parents, in-laws and friends. I’m grateful for way more than enough (food, shelter, clothing). I’m grateful that you stop here and read these posts.
Image credit: Kirk Livingston