by The Rev. Joy Willard-Williford
The LORD is my God! I will praise him and tell him how thankful I am. Psalm 118:28
I recently watched a video on the Internet that showed a man going through the paces of a normal day. There was the scene where he woke up and got out of bed. There was a scene where he sat and ate his cereal with his two young children. In another scene, the man is dropping his daughter off in the carline at school. Still another scene has him at his desk at work, followed by a scene in which he visits a grave. In each of these instances, there is an empty chair and at the end of each scene, the man is shown sitting in the chair. The video is by The Skit Guys, and is called “Thanksgiving Chair.” In every situation – in all circumstances of his day – the man takes a moment to be thankful. It is a powerful piece, and all the more powerful when, in the final scene, the man is shown putting his daughter to bed, and introducing her to the thanksgiving chair.
You would think that “thankfulness” would be an easy virtue to develop. I’m not so sure. It is easy to take our blessings for granted. A thankful heart, like other virtues, needs to be cultivated so that it becomes habit. Imagine practicing thankfulness like you practice a sport or a musical instrument. Imagine that empty thanksgiving chair, and “sit” in it. Try thanking God for every little thing at every moment. You could get good at it!
Almighty God, Father of all mercies, we your unworthy servants give you humble thanks for all your goodness and loving-kindness to us and to all whom you have made. We bless you for our creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life; but above all for your immeasurable love in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ; for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory. And, we pray, give us such an awareness of your mercies that with truly thankful hearts we may show forth your praise, not only with our lips, but in our lives, by giving up ourselves to your services, and by walking before you in holiness and righteousness all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory throughout all ages. Amen. (The General Thanksgiving from the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer)