Thursday, November 24, 2011

An Attitude of Gratitude

"For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not, even that which he hath shall be taken away."  Matthew 25:29

Today in the United States we celebrate Thanksgiving.  We fill the day with parades, football, cooking, family, and shopping.  We may recall the Pilgrims and the Native Americans feasting together.  How many of us take the time to reflect on how blessed we are and be thankful for what we have?

The original celebration of Thanksgiving was different.  It wasn't merely a harvest festival or a block party.  The Pilgrims were truly grateful for what they had.  They had much to complain about.  They originally had meant to go to Virginia, they weren't expecting the cold New England winters.  They had lost many of their companions to the harsh weather.  Even by the standards of the day, they had little in material comforts.  For one day at least, they chose to ignore all their hardships and be thankful for what they did have.


There is an old story about a man who lost his feet in an accident.  He grew bitter about his loss and was always complaining.  Finally one day he met a man who lost his legs in an accident.  He realized how much worse his life could have been, and he starting being grateful for what he did have.


Having this attitude of gratitude by itself makes life less unpleasant.  The consequences are more than just mental.  As Jesus explained in the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25, we need to care for what we are given.  If you are not thankful for what you have, you will not take care of it, and you will lose it.

We will need an attitude of gratitude to take care of what we have been given as we make the Long Ascent.

"This is the day which Jehovah hath made; We will rejoice and be glad in it." Psalm 118:25 (ASV)


  1. Lovely post, John. The parable made me think of one of the farmers I work for. He's blind and has been for years. However, it's a degenerative condition, so he has had sight before. He's been on his current farm for over two decades and became familiar with it when he was still able to see (though he saw poorly.) Now, he gets around it just fine, if a bit slowly. He feeds the cows and sheep, puts away the ducks and chickens. Separates animals, pens certain ones in. It's really quite remarkable how capable he is of running the place despite being blind. Yes, he needs a certain amount of help, but less than you might think.

    I'm sure he has times of sorrow over being blind, but he's one of the nicest people I know. His spirit is fantastic. He gets around partly by feeling the ground through his shoes. That helps tell him where he is. I learned that the other day and I loved it.

    I've lived my life in frustration and a certain level of cynicism and I wasn't happy for it. I've lived my life with a good amount of joy, recognition of beauty, and a willingness to forgive, even when it's a challenge. The latter way is much better. Attitude is a huge piece of our lives.

    Of The Hands

  2. That is a wonderful story, I'm glad you shared it with me. It brightens my day.

    Don't think I don't struggle with a bad attitude, I most certainly do. I won't be sharing much of that in this blog, not because I'm trying to make a false impression, but because I am trying to make it true. I know you've been following John Michael Greer, so I'll just say this blog is very much a theurgical work. I'm not trying to change anyone's mind but my own, but I welcome the company, and especially anecdotes like you just shared.