Perhaps our most overlooked blessing is life itself. As I have written this series on being thankful I have discovered a few things about myself. There are days when my topic is obvious to me. There has been an experience or memory that taps into the deep streams of thankfulness within my soul. Some days I struggle to identify a blessing for which I am thankful. Dozens of ideas float through my mind, each something for which I am thankful or for which I know I should be thankful, but I don’t feel it. And when I don’t feel it writing about it is hard work. Often the process of writing taps into those deep streams and ideas begin to flow. Sometimes no matter what I do the feelings never come; I strive to speak the truth in faith that I’ll feel thankful another time.
One of the things I have discovered is that feeling thankful and being thankful are two separate realities. I can feel thankful when all that I am is happy. Happiness is not thankfulness. Happiness centers on me and the good I possess (or think I possess). Thankfulness centers on the provider of my blessing, the One to whom I am indebted. These two conditions of the soul are connected. When I am happy it is natural to want to share the joy with my benefactor which often triggers genuine thankfulness. The inverse is also true; intentional focus on giving thanks usually transitions into feeling thankful which then triggers joyfulness.
I have also learned that I am inclined to be thankful for the particulars of life; I am thankful for this and I am thankful for that. This predisposition to focus on a specific time or place or possession may in fact reduce my attitude of gratitude. It is easy to trigger thoughts and feelings in response to objective realities, things I can quantify and categorize. It is a greater challenge to offer thanks for realities that are beyond my abilities to comprehend.
I cannot comprehend that I am. I know that I am. I possess knowledge of my biological origins and nature. I think, therefore I am. But what am I? Years ago I had a profound encounter with myself. God gave me a vision of who I am (see an earlier post). When I arrived at the core of my being I discovered I am nothing. I have nothing I can claim as my own; I am nothing on my own. I do not exist except by and in God in whom we all live and move and have our being. My existence, my being, are the product of God’s active will that I be.
I am not an accident even though my parents thought me so. I am not the product of chance even if my gnome can be described as such. I am the object of Divine choice. I am a person existing in the image of God. I am because He gives me life. For this I am thankful even if I am not always conscious of this gift. When I am most fully aware of this cornerstone of being, I am filled with awe that is energized with love, joy and peace. For when I know that I am, that I am alive, I know it is He who sustains me and in His presence I am whole. In those moments my very being sings an unprompted song of adoration and thanksgiving.
June 3, 2010