“For what we are about to receive, may the Lord make us truly thankful. Amen.”
I grew up with this prayer (along with various other versions of this theme). It was a good ‘go-to’ grace that generally preceded a meal.
But today, on this Canadian Thanksgiving, I’m thinking of taking this and giving it a twist. What if, instead of it being the standard grace before the groaning bounty of food, I breathed this same grateful phrase before things that I’m not usually quite as thankful for:
Like the sad fact of my father’s end of life circumstances, my broken relationship with my sister, my friends that are facing illness and hard life-and-death decisions, the drug-addled woman who was screaming in the square yesterday…all of it.
The facts are, no one gets through life unscathed.
I have discovered that my most painful lessons are the ones that have broken me open, inevitably resulting in an increased compassion and understanding for others. And isn’t it my goal to become as fully human as possible?
They say we also learn this same kind of empathetic understanding by reading fiction. I have never needed a study to convince me of that truism. Reading a great novel, or a memoir for that matter, is a magical opportunity to see and experience the world through someone else’s eyes; a chance to walk a mile in different shoes.
It would be really quite lovely if I could learn everything I needed to know by reading a great book (and it certainly won’t be for lack of trying). But I’ve learned I don’t get off the hook that easily.
Today, on this Thanksgiving Day, my plan is to practise the hardest grace of all; to be truly thankful for whatever I receive and to realize it’s all part of this school called life.
Make us truly thankful. Amen.