Today in chapel we had the privilege of hearing from Peter Brain, the recently retired Archbishop of Armidale, speaking on the topic of thankfulness. His brief message struck a chord with me, especially with the degree to which our society and culture is somewhat less than thankful for the things that we have.
At the moment this is probably best seen with the Australian response to the Olympic medal haul, and the accusations that are flying around in response to the less than optimal results.
All too often this sort of attitude pervades our churches and our Christian walk as well, rather than being thankful for even the little things that we do have in life. How much does the whinging and negativity of our world spill over and threaten to drown the church. How much would we, and our communities be changed by being thankful for what we have, even things as little as the sunset.
In all of this I’m reminded of the power of being thankful, and of the transformative attitude which that brings. I don’t think I’ve seen it presented more clearly than in the life of Mary Karr, a poet and essayist. She writes:
So Tom suggested that I start thanking God as I went through the day. And I said, ‘What are you talking about?’ He said, ‘Well, you know, if your car has a flat and somebody stops and helps you, just say thanks.’ I said, ‘That’s ridiculous.’ But again, over time I started doing it, and I found a kind of quiet core ‘south of my neck’ is the only way I can put it, where I began to get some sense of peace or certainty or clarity or quiet, just a kind of quiet.
But all of a sudden it was almost like the world bloomed into being. I realised that I had been so focused on complaint for most of my life that I had just missed a lot of the good things that were going on. My world view, which I had thought of as so ‘realistic’ because I didn’t believe in God, was in fact very warped by a kind of naturally depressive state of mind. It’s almost like the world was black and white and it started to bleed into technicolour before my eyes.
You can read more of her story here: http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/encounter/unlikely-catholics-addiction-conversion-and-poetry/3255234 it is certainly a powerful testimony to God working through thankfulness.
Personally its a challenge to me as well, all too often I find myself beset with a complaining spirit, rather than stopping to give thanks, and in talking to the people around me I don’t think I’m in any way unique in this.
Perhaps we should all be stopping more often to give thanks in life, and how much of a difference would this make in our walk?