Being Thankful…

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: 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?

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