And yet, a friend of mine reminded me last night of the power of gratitude. And since it is Thanksgiving week, this comes in a timely manner. Gratefulness is vital. It has the power to rewire our brains, to create new neuropathways and new practices of positivity and appreciation in our lives. While cynicism and complaining produce an increase of negativity and despair, gratitude and thankfulness catalyze perpetuating cycles of positivity and gratefulness.
It seems we are on to something. For there are encouragements all throughout our sacred text to be thankful in the midst of every circumstance, even to cultivate gratitude (Colossians 3:15). And scientists, psychologists, life coaches and mindfulness gurus agree. Gratitude opens us up to receive the goodness of life. It awakens us to the reality that all of life is gift.
I love this quote by Desmond Tutu. "Our nature is goodness. Yes, we do much that is bad, but our essential nature is good. If it were not, then we would not be shocked and dismayed when we harm one another. When someone does something ghastly, it makes the news because it is the exception to the rule. We live surrounded by so much love, kindness, and trust that we forget it is remark-able." - Desmond Tutu, The Fourfold Path for Healing Ourselves and Our World.
I love this. What if we were awake to this reality that we are surrounded by so much love, kindness and trust. We tend to focus on the exceptions to the rule but then they are the exceptions. This reality of love, that is the very essence of God is at the very center of the cosmos. Every proton, atom, and cell of creation is charged with the presence of God. Every breath, every sunset, every small act of kindness. Yes, we are flooded with the brokenness of humanity, reports of evil, greed, violence and power, and our scars bear witness to these realities. And yet, when Jesus came, he announced a new reality. He called it forgiveness. And he declared a new reality of forgiveness, healing and grace that begin a revolution of love in which the world would never be the same.
Tutu goes on to say, "Forgiveness is the way we return what has been taken from us and restore the love and kindness and trust that has been lost. With each act of forgiveness, whether small or great, we move toward wholeness. Forgiveness is nothing less than how we bring peace to ourselves and our world."
Which brings me back to gratefulness. For forgiveness is unearned. It is sheer gift. Kindness invites me to repentance and humility. Mercy reminds me that I am beloved. Grace calls me into freedom and Love heals me. And I am grateful. Grateful for God's redemptive purposes in my own life and in so many who surround me. It is stunning. God's grace at work in our lives.
So this week as we celebrate Thanksgiving, may you be aware that you live in so much love, kindness and trust that it is truly remarkable. And especially as you hold the many injustices and divisions of our day with family and friends around the table, may you experience the freedom, peace and wholeness of forgiveness. And finally, may you be filled most of all with immense gratitude for the many wonders and gifts of your lives.
by Jessica Ketola