Pondering Thanksgiving with Merton

gratitude“There is no neutrality between gratitude and ingratitude. Those who are not grateful soon begin to complain of everything.” – Thomas Merton

I have been thinking of thanksgiving a lot lately. And in this, I do not mean turkey dinner and football. Just a few weeks ago I wrote this: “..if giving thanks is the exhale of inhaling grace, than inhaling peace is the exhale of giving thanks, too.” You can read that whole post, here.

What’s fun is that apparently my teenage daughter, too, has been thinking about thanks. Here’s what she recently shared.

Here’s more from Thomas Merton that gives me much to ponder..

“Gratitude is more than a mental exercise, more than a formula of words. We cannot be satisfied to make a mental note of things which God has done for us and then perfunctorily thank Him for favors received.

To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything He has given us… and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him. Gratitude therefore takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise of the goodness of God. For the grateful man knows that God is good, not by hearsay but by experience. And that is what makes all the difference.”

I love this, “For the grateful man knows that God is good, not by hearsay but by experience.”

It makes me wonder how much of my knowledge of the fact that God is good is built upon hearsay and how much of it is built upon my own personal experience in knowing that I know that I know that I know, He is good.

I don’t give thanks nearly enough. Maybe I am simply living off hearsay more than I know? To give thanks is to know God. How could we ever even begin to give thanks otherwise? Because if we really knew God and let the fullness of God dance without restraints deep within, I think we would be tripping all over ourselves to give thanks.

And not because it’s what we are “supposed” to do. But rather because it would be all we would even want to do.

To be in His presence transforms us into being vessels of thanksgiving and praise. How could we not be? His love is just that deep and wide. His mercy and grace is just that new every morning. Yet even more so than what God has done that is deserving of our thanks, it frankly is simply who God is that deserves all praise.

But furthermore from The Message and Psalm 100:

1-2 On your feet now—applaud God!
    Bring a gift of laughter,
    sing yourselves into his presence.

Know this: God is God, and God, God.
    He made us; we didn’t make him.
    We’re his people, his well-tended sheep.

Enter with the password: “Thank you!”
    Make yourselves at home, talking praise.
    Thank him. Worship him.

For God is sheer beauty,
    all-generous in love,
    loyal always and ever.

In this, I fall to my knees and give thanks to God. It seems here is where I find the purpose of that next breath that Lord willing awaits me and for that last breath that just prolonged me.

A life on purpose is a life led with thanks. Note to self: Give thanks always. Scratch that. Walk with God always and giving thanks will spill forth. Giving thanks is the effect. God being God is the cause.

“Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

In this, Thanksgiving is not just a day, it should be a life. And so I ponder, why isn’t it? Because when it is, life sure seems a whole lot different and the load seems a whole lot lighter.

For a life void of giving thanks, is a life in need of God. And boy do I sure need more of Him.

..and less of me.


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