“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” William Arthur Ward
I was raised to write a thank you note any time I was given a gift or someone did something nice for me. As a child, this was a chose that I often resisted, but as an adult I have come to cherish the thank you notes I receive. It tickles me to wonder about the mothers and grandmothers who instilled this responsibility in my friends’ minds. I also have come to love the process of hand-writing notes. I enjoy every part of the process – from choosing fun and beautiful stationery, a pen that writes smoothly in purple ink, and then the stamps at the post office – thank you notes are tiny opportunities to inject the joy of rainbow butterflies or bees with tiny sequins on their antennae into my day.
But I have to admit that part of why I love writing notes is the pleasure of having a list with little boxes that I can check off as I work my way through the notes. As a pastor, there was so little in my job was ever finished that completing a list of notes was extremely satisfying. “Thanks for the delicious lunch and beautiful flowers,” stamp on the envelope, return address in the corner, notes in the mail, check the list, and yahooo! Gratitude has been given.
Yet this week, Professor Caroline Lewis challenged me to consider a new way to think about being grateful and how I express gratitude. Here’s the quick context for the gospel lesson this weekend – Jesus was traveling in the liminal territory between Galilee and Samaria and entered a village. Ten men approached Jesus for healing because they had a skin condition that made them “unclean” and thus isolated from the community. Jesus sent them to present themselves at the temple, and as they were going, they were made clean. One of the men turned back, praising God loudly, and “He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him.”
In the Sermon Brainwave podcast for 10/9/22, Caroline Lewis says that it is more accurate to translate “thanked him” as “thanking him” since it is a masculine singular present participle. She notes that the man made clean “was in a constant state of gratitude, a new way of being, and NOT a one time ‘THANKS JESUS’ before going on his way.”
In my sermon this week, which you can listen to on our podcast, I reflect on what it means to live a thanking life. A life of gratitude for all things, even on the hardest days. Personally, I’d love your ideas for ways to actively be a thanking person, moving beyond saying “thanks” to doing gratitude.
Hugs and blessings to you,