One of the pearls of wisdom that has stayed with me most from seminary was an oft-repeated phrase from our primary professor, a most holy priest, Fr. Philippe (+2006):
"Giving thanks keeps the heart youthful". Unlike the body, the heart per se does not age. But the heart can be encumbered, and thus grow tired. We can allow circumstance, inner and/or outer, to keep us from engaging persons and the world around us, openly, with love. Our hearts can shrink.
Giving thanks opens the heart. And the wonderful thing is that we can always give thanks if we want. Giving thanks is always within reach. No circumstance, inner and/or outer, can keep us from doing so. Giving thanks is not due to a welling up of emotion. Giving thanks is a deliberate act, in which I recognize goodness that does not originate in me, that is not of my doing. Giving thanks may, at times, feel forced. Worry not. Our sometime erratic emotions do not always cooperate with what we intend. Oh well! We give thanks nonetheless. Indeed, there is a little loving pressure to do so from our friend St. Paul. In 1 Thessalonians 5:18, he exhorts us: "give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus". If he is speaking of God's will, then he is speaking of a pathway to intimacy with God.
Our annual national invitation to give thanks is upon us. At Thanksgiving, we often have high expectations for great times with family and/or friends. The gatherings (or lack thereof) can sometimes be bittersweet, however. Perhaps, more deliberately giving thanks will change the experience. If anything, it shifts one's focus away from what seems to be missing, to goodness which is a gift.
"Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever." 1 Chronicles 16:34
With thanks to the Lord for you,
From the desk of the Rector