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On Gratitude

I have always loved Thanksgiving best of all major holidays. Perhaps it has even become the most religious of our holidays. By “most religious” I mean that Thanksgiving retains more of a fundamental religious message than the holidays most of us observe.

All religious traditions recognize gratitude as central to religious experience. When I allow my mind to reflect on gratitude (which I confess I do not do often enough), I am quickly overwhelmed. I will never be in the one percent of financial wealth, but I am easily in the top one percent—nay, the top tenth of one percent—in the only wealth that matters. I was blessed to grow up in a loving family. I was given educational opportunities. I have been blessed by being part of a wonderful family my entire adult life. I have spent most of my life doing work I love to do. My list goes on and on. I bet yours does, also.

Yes, there is injustice and suffering. Yes, we are called to heal our world. Gratitude does not mean blinding ourselves to what is wrong in our world, nor does gratitude mean we do not strive to heal what is broken. Quite the opposite is true. Gratitude for all that is good in our lives leads us to compassion and generosity of spirit.

One of the most destructive things our consumer culture does is to teach us to want what we do not have. Wanting more becomes an addiction that destroys our souls and our planet. Gratitude, deep gratitude, frees us. Gratitude also links us to others.

My cup runs over. I hope yours does as well.

Permanent link to this article: http://president.blogs.uua.org/faith/on-gratitude/