Thanksgiving reminds us that no matter what is happening in our life, there is always something to be thankful for.
I am confronted with this truth each day in my work as a hospital chaplain.
Sometimes it takes a crisis to help us remember what’s truly important in our lives. We find that there is good even in the midst of bad. Joy and sorrow live in tension with one another and make each other all the more meaningful.
The song “Thankful” by Josh Groban says it so well:
“Somedays we forget to look around us.
“Somedays we can’t see the joy that surrounds us.
“So caught up inside ourselves, we take when we should give.
“So for tonight we pray for what we know can be.
“And on this day we hope for what we still can’t see.
“It’s up to us to be the change and even though we all can still do more.
“There’s so much to be thankful for.”
We have a choice, not just at Thanksgiving, but all year long.
We can choose to focus on our difficulties and live with a negative edge about us, feeling frustrated and hurt and sad.Or we can willfully choose to slow down and be more present and mindful.
To notice the beauty and good and joy that surrounds us. To give thanks for those things and people we often take for granted — our loved ones, our work, our home, nature.
Perhaps it is a miracle to allow this awareness of our blessings to fill us with thanks despite our circumstances.
So take a moment and acknowledge what is really tough in your life. What you wish was different. The things you do not like and are anything but grateful for. The things that fill you with fear and sadness.
They are real.
Without pushing them out, now let yourself think about whatever or whoever it is you are thankful for.
It might be something miraculous or extraordinary. But more likely it is something rather ordinary.
If you allow yourself to really get in touch with the thankfulness you feel, it transforms into anything but ordinary. Be conscious of it.
Aware of its presence.
Let that thankfulness for your blessings and what is good seep into your soul to that deep place where you can savor it.
Make an effort this Thanksgiving to live in the moment and not miss what is of value and importance right in front of you.
Be content with what is and seek to appreciate who you are with. Be conscious and take in the day.
Embrace what is rather than thinking about what is not.
As poet Mary Oliver says so well: “Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.”
No matter what circumstances you find yourself in this Thanksgiving, I pray you have peace in your spirit and love in your heart.
DR. TRISH WILLIAMSON is a chaplain at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Denton.