Even as we thank God for family, friends and the blessings of everyday life, let’s extend the boundaries of the things we think about as Thanksgiving approaches. Let’s enlarge our attitude of gratitude.
Here are two writers for whom gratitude has evolved in insightful ways.
Writing in the Sunday Times of London in 1996, a British transplant to America named Andrew Sullivan reflected on Thanksgiving during the 15 years he had already been in the United States. He said, “I’m thankful for the American talent for contradiction. The country that sustained slavery for longer than any civilized country is also the country that has perhaps struggled more honestly for the notion of racial equality. The country that has a genuine public ethic of classlessness also has the most extreme economic inequality in the world. The country that is obsessed with pressing the edge of modernity also has the oldest intact constitution in the world. The country that still contains a powerful religious right has also pushed for the equality of the homosexual community. A country that cannot officially celebrate Christmas is also one of the most deeply religious nations on the planet. Americans have learned how to reconcile the necessary contradictions not simply because their country is physically big enough to contain them, but because it is spiritually big enough to contain them. Americans have learnt how to reconcile the necessary contradictions of modern life with verve and a serenity few others can muster. It is a deeply reassuring achievement.” Some contradictions have been resolved here since Sullivan penned these words, but the call to gratitude remains.
The runner up for the annual Foley Poetry contest sponsored by America magazine in 2017,Detroit lawyer William O’Leary wrote in part he had gratitude
For charity, joy, peace, patience
That have always roamed the woods in front of me…
For believing in Adam and Eve
And Sister Mary John Francine who called them
Saint Adam and Saint Eve
And all the believing that followed…
For vows of marriage, vows of silence, vows
Of chastity that bend the starlight to earth…
For holy names and graves…
For the grace of growing old
And thinking that it’s wisdom.
For that share of intimacies
I don’t share with words
But recollect with sadness and content.
~Sister Joan Sobala