EDITORIAL: Gratitude

“If we are not grateful, then no matter how much we have we will not be happy – because we will always want to have something else or something more.” – Brother David Steindl-Rast

“You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in the ink.” – G.K. Chesterton

“None is more impoverished than the one who has no gratitude. Gratitude is a currency that we can mint for ourselves, and spend without fear of bankruptcy.” – Fred De Witt Van Amburgh

“Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace and gratitude.” – Denis Waitley

It is one of the ironies of the age that we have more material wealth than any generation in history, and yet we remain, collectively and individually, dissatisfied. According to one recent survey, the happiest
Most Americans – even many who are defined as poor – have at their disposal comforts and capabilities that even kings and conquerors could not have had in past generations. We’re warm in winter, cool in summer, as clean as we wish and out of reach of most diseases that routinely killed our forebears. For some of us, the hardest part of staying fed, clothed, transported, informed and entertained – major achievements for most of humanity – is choosing among the endless possibilities.
Yet we want more – and better, easier, trendier, quicker, cheaper.
Two days ago, we collectively celebrated Thanksgiving Day. One suspects that amid the pies, parades and pigskins, we probably didn’t observe the day with the same fervency that our predecessors, the Puritans, must have. Their circumstances were dire – many of their number had died on their voyage to the New World, and many more died that first winter of privation. Still, they seemed to define their circumstances in terms of gratitude.
“Our corn did prove well; and, God be praised, we had a good increase of Indian corn,” wrote Edward Winslow, who would eventually be one of the Puritans’ governors, in a letter to friends in England. “And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.”
Unfortunately, if we acknowledge the spiritual side of the holiday at all – sadly, many don’t – our modern Thanksgiving observance often begins and ends with saying grace at dinner.
Yet each of us has but to pause and muse in order to be overwhelmed by the blessings we enjoy routinely. Beyond having material abundance, we can come and go as we please, speak out or publish in the marketplace of ideas and follow the dictates of conscience in where, when, how and whom we worship.
This weekend, as we are tempted toward total immersion in the material melee that defines the holiday season, let us resolve not to let Thanksgiving fade into dim memory. Because it is both a duty and a multiplier of our own happiness, let us resolve to make Thanksgiving, day by day, a foundational principle of our lives.

NEMS Daily Journal