The BTS Center
97 India Street • Portland, ME 04101
November 25, 2020
Tomorrow we will celebrate Thanksgiving once again, and this year's Thanksgiving promises to be unlike any we can recall. What does it mean to practice gratefulness at a moment when we have grown so weary of the limitations posed by this pandemic? What does it mean to celebrate Thanksgiving when the public health precautions are preventing us from celebrating with family and friends, at least in the ways we normally would?
Maybe we find ourselves wrestling because we don't particularly feel grateful right now.
In her profoundly beautiful book, Grateful: The Transformative Power of Giving Thanks, Diana Butler Bass notes, “Gratitude is, however, more than just an emotion. It is also a disposition that can be chosen and cultivated, an outlook toward life that manifests itself in actions — it is an ethic.”
Gratitude is an ethic — I like that a lot. Gratitude is a disposition that we can choose — a posture, a practice, a mindset that we can cultivate and nurture. This feels hopeful, doesn't it? This feels possible, compelling, maybe even irresistible.
Diana Butler Bass goes on to suggest, “Gratitude is not about stuff. Gratitude is the emotional response to the surprise of our very existence, to sensing that inner light and realizing the astonishing sacred, social, and scientific events that brought each one of us into being. We cry out like the Psalmist, 'I am fearfully and wonderfully made!' (Psalm 139:14).”
Indeed, we are fearfully and wonderfully made — we and every living thing on this planet — and our lives are intertwined with one another and with the Earth, our common home. This year, I invite you to pause to give thanks: not because everything is right with the world, not because you are perfectly content or satisfied in every way, not because we are promised health and prosperity and well-being tomorrow — but because gratitude is your ethic, because it's a disposition you choose, because you claim the truth that you, like every living thing, are fearfully and wonderfully made, and because in the midst of the struggles and worries and challenges of life, God is with us and for us.
Wishing you Thanksgiving blessings,