By Rev. Kurt Condra
Just as turkey and stuffing are ubiquitous at Thanksgiving, gratitude is the dominant energy associated with it. But Thanksgiving observances vary greatly in scale and tone. Some are massive family gatherings that inspire the best (or trigger the worst) in us. Some are intimate celebrations between friends that deepen connections or magnify differences. For some, “Turkey Day” might be observed in blissful peaceful. Others may experience melancholy or isolation.
This year, I'm practicing three types of gratitude that work no matter my mood.
First is Simple Gratitude. Essentially, it's about noticing the blessings already received. Could be as simple as the food and loved ones with whom we gather, or as profound as the gifts of breath and life. Like the manna which fed the Israelites during 40 years of wandering, Simple Gratitude involves noticing how divine activity blesses our lives daily.
The next type is Expectant Gratitude. This involves giving thanks for blessings yet to be received. Many in Unity are well practiced at giving thanks in advance. We point to Jesus' example of giving thanks for a few loaves and fishes in advance of feeding four and five thousand.
The third form is Courageous Gratitude. It's the opposite of Expectant Gratitude because it's retrospective. It looks back at experiences of loss or pain to generate appreciation for how even those contribute to our becoming. Craig Minowa of my favorite band, Cloud Cult, describes it in the lyric: "It's easy to be thankful for the things you've got. It takes guts to give thanks for things you've lost." It's from a song titled "No Hell," written as his heart was healing following the soul-crushing death of his 2-year-old son from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. The music he has made since is said to "span the human experience from the rawest grief to the fiercest hope."
Whatever your circumstances this Thanksgiving, I pray Spirit's activity lifts you and supports you in the manner most fruitful for your soul's becoming. God bless!