Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Living Thankfully

Last week I was leading a chapel for 60 or so preschool kids, talking about being thankful. I told them that being thankful is more than just saying "Thank You," although those are important words to say. I told them that we show our thankfulness by how we USE and TREAT what we've been given. That we show our gratitude for our hands when we use them to help someone or create art, but not when we hit. That we show our gratitude for our mouths and our voices when we sing songs or say nice things, but not when we call someone else a name.

As I was talking to these 3 and 4 year olds it hit me, as it often does when I'm teaching children, that these are lessons I need to learn as well. And so, here, a brief examination of some of the things that I am thankful for, and how I can show my gratitude in how I use and treat them.

I am thankful for my home - that it keeps me warm and dry (or cool and dry in the summer!), that it gives me a space to call my own and create a life with my family. I can show my gratitude for my home by creating in it an environment that is restful for my whole family, that provides space for playing and learning and loving. (this includes keeping it clean enough that I don't spend every moment in every room looking around in disgust, but too tired to do anything about it. I am working on this problem this week) I can take care of it,and fix the things that need fixing. I can show gratitude for my home by gladly welcoming others into it, for the afternoon or an extended stay.

I am grateful for my family, for my husband and child. I can show my gratitude for these gifts by carving out time for them, by enjoying who they are and not who I want them to be, by always assuming the best of them, by encouraging them and loving them unconditionally.

I am thankful for my body, for the amazing things that it does. I can show my gratitude for my physical being by putting foods into it that nourish it, rather than drain it. By exercising I can increase my health and my abilities, and thereby show my gratitude and my desire to keep this physical form. I can stop looking in the mirror and sighing in disgust at the imperfections I see, but rather marvel at my ability to pick up my child, skip through the sand, and dance to the music. By doing these things more often I show my thankfulness.

I am thankful for my God and my faith. I can show my gratitude for them by spending time deepening my relationship with God, and in trying to understand what He is calling me to do with my life. I can share my thankfulness with others, so that they might see the joy that I have in Him.

I am thankful for the gifts I have of performing - singing and acting. I can use these gifts humbly, without downplaying them and without making them to be more than they are. I can use them in the service of telling stories that connect us as human beings - that lift our spirit and challenge our thinking and help us find a common ground. I can sing praises and sing sorrow and sing comfort and sing joy. I can bring my gifts to the table in a spirit of unity and hope, and create art.

Oh... I could go on, but I don't want to bore you. Basically, though, I am trying to apply this to all areas of my life - if I am thankful for it, I need to LIVE out that gratitude. And if I am not thankful for it? Find a way to eliminate it, or find a way to be thankful for it.

What are YOU thankful for today, and how can you show your gratitude?

26 comments:

Jozet at Halushki said...

What a wonderful reflection.

Right now, I'm thankful for a sleeping baby...

Pumpkin pie...

My friends...

Feeling at peace with where I am in life...

The Internet.

Family Adventure said...

PM, this is lovely.

I particularly liked what you said about carving out time for your loved ones and appreciating them for who they are, not how you want them to be. That hits home for me.

Ditto for one's own body.

I am very thankful for many things, but these two areas I could work harder at. Thank you for reminding me.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Heidi

Emily R said...

This is lovely. I, too, and thankful for my family, and I am so glad you have reminded me the best way to show that gratitude.

Julie Pippert said...

This is beautiful. I also believe you are so right when you say it's not just the feeling of gratitude, but how we use the gifts we have.

Julie
Using My Words

blooming desertpea said...

I am grateful for almost the same things as you - I don't have your acting skills but I have others to be thankful for and I am thankful for these not only on this day but every single day of my life ...

Chaotic Joy said...

This is the best thing I have read all month long on what it really means to be thankful. There is so much for me to learn in these words. Wonderful, wonderful post.

Happy Thanksgiving Maypole. You are blessing to me.

Chaotic Joy said...

I linked you at my place.

Beck said...

This is just lovely.
Happy thanksgiving.

Amanda said...

Beautiful.

I am thankful for the fresh blanket around my shoulders, the fleece covering my napping girls and the sight of my husband, scruffy and rumpled, curled up before the fire.

Terri said...

Thank you for these beautifully expressed sentiments.

Kyla said...

Beautiful. Happy Thanksgiving!

jen said...

oh sister....honestly, reading this i am thankful for you.

you entering my life this year with your grace and light and love.

happy thanksgiving.

soccer mom in denial said...

What a lovely list of thanks. I am simply grateful for my family - both the one I've created and the one I'm from.

I'm spending the day with all of the former and a few of the later. With lots of hugs to go around.

Suz said...

I love this post, so much, just because you're thankful for the things that I take so for granted. I need to work on being thankful for my body and my family in the same ways that you describe here.

BipolarLawyerCook said...

I am thankful that I've gotten to "meet" so many wonderful writers and thinkers. Happy Thanksgiving!

Alex Elliot said...

What a great post. I am grateful for my family. I made everyone go around the table and say a warm fuzzy about everyone else and and one about themselves today.

another good thing said...

Very nice. I read and winced- seeing myself in your post. Thanks to the blogworld for you.
Linda

Kathryn said...

What a beautiful message and a powerful reminder. Thank you for such a wonderful post. :)

Luisa Perkins said...

Lovely post! I wrote a much shorter, less articulate version last night as I was succumbing to turkey coma.

Emily said...

Beautiful as always, PM!

Palpable Gratitude. What a lovely and important lesson.

Thank you.

the dragonfly said...

I am thankful for my little boy, and for every second that my husband is home with me. Deployment looms, so the best way for me to show gratitude is to appreciate and treasure every moment the three of us have together.

Amy Y said...

Very well said ~ I am thankful for beautiful ladies like yourself that I have "met" in the blogosphere that teach me something new every single day. :)

Amy Y said...

Very well said ~ I am thankful for beautiful ladies like yourself that I have "met" in the blogosphere that teach me something new every single day. :)

niobe said...

Of course, you're absolutely right. But gratitude is another one of those (far too many) things I have trouble with.

carrie said...

I am thankful that even in the face of a turkey disaster, I had the means to fix it so that my family could have a nice dinner on Thanksgiving.

And I am aware that I am lucky that I was able to do that. So many, many people wouldn't have been able to, and that isn't fair.

I hope you and your family had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Marie said...

Wow. This post is so rich with insight and inspiring perspectives. Thank you. Must mull this over further...
Bella beautiful!