By now you may have overdosed on gratitude. If so, please indulge me. I am a little late to the party. You see I approached last week’s celebration of Thanksgiving with lack-luster enthusiasm, to say the least. I just couldn’t muster up the gratitude and I felt completely awful about it.
My Facebook feed was full of grateful friends with lovely things to say about their many blessings and so forth. But I felt…nothing. I could blather on about all the things that are in the “not too great” column of goings on in my life (but why?)
And at the same time, of course, I know I have plenty of grace in my life. But what do you do when it doesn’t bubble up and runneth over your cup or cornucopia, or whatever?
Well, quite uncharacteristically, I took it to prayer. And by uncharacteristically, I mean, I usually try to hide that kind of thing. I try to sanitize it (as if God doesn’t know me!) Or I work like heck to manufacture something on my own, but that never works. It doesn’t feel organic or honest. This time, however, I remembered that quote from St. Augustine that I posted here last time. If you remember, he says something like: “I have all these things I want to give you, Lord, but first, can you please give them to me.”
I think that is pure genius! Why do we think we have to be the ones to generate all this goodness and virtue and compassion and gratitude on our own? Doesn’t it make sense that since God is the Source, God generates everything? Clearly this was one time when I needed to ask for the thing I wanted to give back.
And so I did. I asked for gratitude. I asked to see the truth of my life, not the stories I was telling myself. And thanks to Macrina Wierdekehr, I turned some questions around a little. Since I had fallen into my questions about enough, I asked myself if I had enough joy to share with my family this holiday season. When the answer was “not so much,” I asked God for the joy too…while God was at it.
The transformation was very subtle, as most are. I went about my duties. I dutifully prepared pies and rolls and side dishes and brined the turkey. Before too long I felt a warmth growing within me. I started a list on the refrigerator of my gratefulls. Luke added to the list.
Days later, by the time we all sat down together at our dinner table on Thanksgiving, I could honestly and wholeheartedly thank God for the gifts of gratitude and joy that I had come to through no conjuring of my own but rather, by God’s generosity.
You know what? The next time I find myself lacking, when I am coming up completely empty, I am going to remember St. Augustine’s tip: “Let me offer you in sacrifice the service of my thoughts and my tongue, but first, give me what I may offer you.”