Ready for an exercise?
Don’t worry. This exercise doesn’t require you to
get into that workout outfit you bought 11 months
ago. No, you can do this one sitting down. Right
where you are. Right now. Ready?
List 3 things you are thankful for. Ready? Go.
Easy as that pie you’ll eat tomorrow. Also—guess
what? You just prayed. You did a ‘thanks’ prayer, to
quote Anne Lamott.
Ready for another exercise? Again, you don’t have to
go anywhere. Here we go:
Breathe in something you’re grateful for. Hold
it…Now, let it out—gratitude. Do it 2 more times.
Same thing. In with gratefulness, out with
gratitude. I’ll wait. Good job! Another prayer.
Here in the United States, we are on the eve of the
day we dedicate as “Thanksgiving.” For some, this
day will include preparing, cooking, cleaning, and
celebrating with loved ones around a table, TV, or
telephones with cameras. Thanksgiving Day is a day
we pause to consider all we are thankful for in our
lives. Some of us will do so with ease; still others
of us might need to dig a little deeper, look past
the help prayers, and the wow ones, too (more Anne
Lamott) to find their ‘thanks’ prayer. A few of us
might not get to ‘thanks,’ and that is okay.
As your pastor, colleague, friend, and stranger, I
will say thanks to you. Not in some patronizing way,
but in a pastoral way. With kindness and gentleness,
and a touch of tenderness. Because I am thankful for
you. I am grateful for your story—even if I haven’t
read it yet. I’ll give thanks for you because God
has gifted us—the world, the community, the
church—with you. While I may not know you
personally, you are known personally by God—and I
give thanks to the Holy One for God has given us
Here are a few more words from Anne
Lamott on the ‘thanks.’ prayer:
“We and life are spectacularly flawed and complex.
Often we do not get our way, which I hate, hate,
hate. But in my saner moments I remember that if we
did, usually we would shortchange ourselves.
Sometimes circumstances conspire to remind us or
even let us glimpse how thin the membrane is between
here and there, between birth and the grave, between
human and the divine. In wonder at the occasional
direct experience of this, we say, Thank you.”
At The Center yesterday, we made ‘Gratitude Jars.’
We spent over an hour with the students creating
them, looking up words in magazines that go with the
themes of gratitude and thankfulness, and we wrote
poems about the feeling of thankfulness; we wrote
poems thanking nature; we wrote poems giving thanks
for our unique talents. As we were making them, the
students stopped and said, “Hey Laura and Adam,
thank you. And thanks to the church for getting us
Thank you, church. Thank you for leaning into love a
little deeper this past year. Thank you for taking a
risk with someone who needed a little help learning
about how to be in a community. Thank you for
showing up this past year and offering God your
gifts, gratitude, and goals. Thank you, church, for
loving each other, for showing up with casseroles
when some of us needed comfort food, and thank you
church for your faithful commitment to the baptismal
vows we’ve made.
As we move closer to Thanksgiving, I invite you to
be intentional and extravagant with your ‘thanks’
and ‘gratitude.’ In so doing, not only will you feel
better, but you will help others feel better about
themselves, as well. Being thankful helps cultivate
a grateful community…
So, Happy Thanksgiving, friends. Know you are loved.
You are appreciated. And you mean the world to so
many of us. More importantly, you are the apple to
God’s eye. And that’s something to be thankful for!
Adam Quine, First
Presbyterian Church in Lincoln