Thanksgiving Is Sappy
by Rev Naomi King
Thanksgiving is the heart’s natural response to wonder, affection, compassion, and generosity. We are born prepared to be joyful, to be grateful, to be lovers of life. We come into this life responsive and responsible. And then we start learning how to focus our hearts, our attention, our actions.
We can choose to dance into wonderment every day through cultivating our sense of gratitude. We can choose reverence as our path through life by a steady practice of thanksgiving. We can choose to be changed by deliberately deciding to attune our being through thanks.
For a long time, I wondered if I had the right to be grateful, or to be happy. I had learned to focus on hurt and misery and want, to be distracted and try to fill those wants with more destructive pursuits. Choosing gratitude felt…well…sappy.
Choosing thanksgiving is sappy. Gratitude is sappy like the new rush of fresh life carrying nutrients in trees. Thanksgiving is sappy in the basis of maple syrup sense, full of sweetness when we gather it up and concentrate all those experiences. Thankfulness becomes a sticky habit, showing up everywhere, difficult to scrub away. Thanksgiving is sappy.
Choosing gratitude can feel like betrayal. When we give thanks repeatedly, when we cultivate this sticky habit, we have to come face to face with we have and what so many don’t, what we don’t have and we don’t need, and what enough really is. The sense of guilt or shame that’s connected to betrayal sneaks in both with realizing big inequities and in grappling with how much we might have believed that if we just had enough of X then we would be fantastically happy and successful. Because of the way gratitude leads us to greater awareness of abundance, and because we become more acutely aware of inequities and suffering that we can address, we can choose greater generosity. Because of the way thankfulness changes our sense of success, we can choose greater compassion, thicker relationships, and playful, but not destructive, competition.
Thanksgiving is more than an annual holiday in the United States or Canada. Thanksgiving is a many-times-a-day practice that opens us to a way of life, a way of wonder, affection, compassion, and generosity. Thankfulness leads us in the ways of reverence, in becoming lovers of life who create and receive ways of blessing. Thankfulness is sappy; stop and breathe deeply of resinous joy.
Rev Naomi King lives, laughs, and ministers with City of Refuge Ministries, in south Florida and everywhere digital.