I cannot remember personally hearing it in my childhood, or adolescence for that matter, but I have heard people talked about being shamed into eating their vegatables with the statement “Be grateful for what you have, there are starving children in Africa! Clean your plate!”
There are starving children every where, even in the small NE Indiana town I live in. Hunger is everywhere.
And there is a hunger these days for more than food. There is a hunger for work, a hunger for financial solvency, a hunger for some justice, for freedom and democracy. The occupy movement, the Tea Party, and the Arab spring movement are all signs of discontent and frustation.
And just this morning in my local paper an article appeared about workers being frustrated at having to start work on Thanksgiving night so that the retail chain they work for can get a jump on black Friday profits. They see it as a taking away from some vital family time.
So as we approach Thanksgiving 2011 is gratitude something that we can even express these days? Or is it a ‘pie-in-the-sky’ thinking now? (No pun intended.)
Are we grateful for anything?
The words of St Paul come to mind in thinking about gratitude:
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. Philippians 4:12 (NIV)
I think Paul is talking about gratitude here and he brings contentment into play.
And we are faced with a great deal of dis-contentment today…
even in our spiritual lives
I acknowledge this discontentment, too.
I feel it as well.
I am frustrated too, with a great deal.
But my concern this Thursday “before Thanksgiving” afternoon is that will we make gratitude say during the upcoming holiday season what the late Rodney Dangerfield often said, “I get no respect!”
I think that Melody Beattie provides us with statement that we would do well to ponder in the week ahead as well as in these times.
Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.
I wonder if those who hit the shores of Massachusetts in 1620 would agree with her statement. They were certainly grateful for God’s watch and care over them as they made the perilous journey over to the new world; as they established a place to worship God freely without the constraints and opposition of the state and state church; and as they viewed their journey and their new land as part of a new chapter in their history and that of human history.
But even as I write these words, I can sense comments coming that would point out the eventual unfair treatments of Native Americans (which, I will tell you up front, is part of my bloodline); the exploitation of the natural environment, and a whole litany of grievances against imperialistic issues and tendencies and actions from that time forward…
…even my use of the picture depicting the first Thanksgiving.
Which proves my point…
Lets make room for gratitude this week, and in the weeks ahead because don’t YOU have much to be grateful for?
these are… my Thursday thoughts.