This Year, I am Grateful!

At Thanksgiving, we pause, even in a cursory way to consider what we’re thankful for. Usually, however, we’re more interested in the roasted turkey with all the trimmings, football games, holiday parades, and shopping than in the practice of deep gratitude. Isn’t it odd how on the one day set aside to give thanks for all we have, so many of us simply use it for a mad shopping rampage for even more stuff? After all, there is a big difference between being thankful and being grateful. So, this year I urge you to stop and give gratitude a try. 

Take a few moments tomorrow before your day begins to reflect on what you’re most deeply grateful for.  Most people’s lists are kind of short. Mine would most likely include Katelyn, my family, Sean, my friends, my ministry team, our parish board, my health, and a few material comforts like a warm bed at night, my CrossFit family, our nation (yes, even as it sits in such turmoil), the children and educators of our school, the historic cemetery we care for, (and Tucker and Friar, too, of course), and our beautiful parish! That about covers it, at least the start of my list for this year!

But I would like us all to try and go deeper this year. If you’re being thankful for something, say, our parish of Saint Miriam, be thankful for the whole thing, not just your favorite parts. I know that I am grateful for Saint Miriam and God’s providence that led us to create her from the ground up! She is a miracle in only ten years! I am grateful for all the varied people – all the kinds of people – all the races, all the ages and shapes and lifestyles and perspectives, all the colors and sexualities, and the varied versions of family that we embrace, the heroes, the lost, the lonely, and the ones who struggle. Everybody

If you are grateful for your family, why not pause and give thanks for the whole dang crazy lot of them, too! That whole wacky bunch that make up your family tree stretching back as far as it goes! Give thanks for Uncle John who ruins every holiday by getting drunk, and Aunt Bea who likes to pick on everyone’s spouse! Embrace the cheats and the losers and all those misfits that make your family, well…your family! Pause to thank God each and every one of them, for if it were not for them, you wouldn’t be here! 

If you are grateful for your health, thank God for your body! This amazing creation called a body may be older and weaker than you wish, but it keeps you alive. If you have a few health struggles, like I do, thank the Lord we are still around to fight them! Be grateful that this created, magnificent machine of a human body knows how to move, bend, lift, heal, and feel! Show your gratitude that your organs know how to digest food, fight germs, and heal itself! Even pain is a necessary gift, so take a pause and thank God for all the pain because it has made your body – and you– stronger and who you are today!

Yes, I wonder if we can all just be grateful for this one day? Is there a more deeply needed lesson for us on this Thanksgiving Day than to learn to simply be grateful? You cannot wait until the problems are over to start walking in faith. You cannot put conditions on holy God. You cannot say, “Lord, as soon as there’s enough money, I follow your instructions.”You cannot pray,“Lord, if you’ll just solve this issue in my family, I’ll start to go back to church again.”You cannot put conditions on God! Instead, God places a demand for faith on us, before anything at all has changed and we must begin in gratitude for all that we have been blessed with.

This past week, we honored those who are transgender because they have one tough road in a world filled with people ready to hate them. Not at Saint Miriam. I remembered Diamond Williams, who thanks to people like us, and a wonderful parishioner named, Richard Freed, she has had more Masses said for her since her death than any pope! But we must remember that people life us, and parishes like ours are sorely needed because just this year alone more than 369 Transgender people were murdered because of nothing more than hate. I hope you will support us, and our mission of true acceptance, by Clicking Here and joining me to make this world a bit kinder and whole lot gentler.

I was once asked why I sacrificed so much to build and maintain Saint Miriam? Why did I endure all the hardships, the public scrutiny? Why did I allow myself to be scourged in the press, beat up by other church leaders? Why did I persevere when ‘they’said it could not be done? Why did I allow myself to be the object of ridicule and scorn? Why did I contribute all my life savings and my retirement funds and still tithe at a rate that takes away half my income to keep us going? Why? Because I want to understand more and more about our wonderful Savior and that is a cost I am willing to endure because, in the end, I am grateful.

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