The Scrooge of Thanksgiving

Everything I write today feels like it needs a qualification behind it.  I feel as though I should be a sort of priestess of Thanksgiving, carrying my gratitude practice into this day like it is my High Holy Day.  Instead, I feel more like the Scrooge of Thanksgiving this morning.  I start to write “Happy Thanksgiving!” but I feel like I need to discuss that in terms of the history of genocide in the US and in terms of the weight I am feeling about racism and injustice at this particular historical moment.  I want to write about how grateful I am for the unaltering yearly shift from growing season to harvest and then to winter’s rest, but I feel like I need to discuss that in terms of climate change and the anxiety I feel about human alteration of the planet’s weather.  I want to write about how excited I am to spend time with my family, but I am still caught up in the whirlwind of papers to write and plans to make and the sense of guilt that rides me about how I am neglecting my own children.

I’m not depressed.  Just grumpy and out of sorts.  I had a moment this morning when I thought, Maybe it’s time to give up the Gratitude Practice and pick up a different tool for a while.  Maybe it’s time to pick up the practice of the Flaming Sword of Justice again.  Perhaps it’s time to become a Holy Curmudgeon, giving the world a good hearty dose of Harsh Reality.  (Yes, I realize it’s too late–I’ve already done so here.)

Here is the part of the short, thoughtful essay where the writer is supposed to take a sense of ick and discomfort and turn it around into something thoughtful and witty, something hopeful and positive and enchanting.  I don’t have that to offer you today.  Not quite.  Just this: that today, of all days, is not the day to give up this work of Gratitude.  That today, of all days, is the day when I need it most of all.  Perhaps on some sunny spring morning when I cannot bear to write only five things, when my heart is overflowing with gratitude, perhaps that is the day that I can say I am ready to move on to explore another practice.  And of course, I won’t ever actually abandon this tool.  I’ll keep it in my box, along with the Flaming Sword of Justice and some of the other tools I have worked with over the years, and bring it out on days like today when I need it most.

So here is my attempt at today’s gratitude list, unqualified by doom and general grouchiness:

Gratitude List:
1. Coffee
2. Coats
3. Chocolate
4. Children
5. Already the gloom is lifting.  Already the energy of the day begins to enter.  Already the sense of possibility begins to shine over the shadow of too-much-to-do-in-too-little-time.  Already the medicine of this practice begins to do its work.  You don’t know, sometimes, if you’re going to get there until you get there.  And sometimes that is the story that needs to unfold.

May you have a moment of peace today.  May we walk in Beauty.

So here, qualified as it is by a thousand things, from the depths of my curmudgeonly soul: Happy Thanksgiving! (And I mean it this time.)


4 thoughts on “The Scrooge of Thanksgiving

  1. i am so happy that i ” stumbled” into your books at MCC welcome house yesterday!
    and now your heart felt blogs!
    thank you ( and Him!!!) for your expressions of deep compassion and humanity
    steve goodman


  2. Perhaps this?

    Bittersweet, by George Herbert

    Ah, my dear angry Lord,
    Since Thou dost love, yet strike;
    Cast down, yet help afford;
    Sure I will do the like.

    I will complain, yet praise:
    I will bewail, approve:
    And all my sour-sweet days
    I will lament, and love.

    I have been taking an e-course on Gurdjieff’s teachings with Cynthia Bourgeault on Spirituality and Practice web site. Recently we had an teleconference with Cynthia and could pose questions. One of my questions was that Gurdjieff’s teachings seem so rooted in self-effort. Where does grace come in? Because I know Romans 7:15 totally describes me. And I was quite blessed by her response. She talked about a way of viewing grace at a kind of “basic” level, that sees God as coming in and giving us something special we need in tough times. But she thinks this is a lower level understanding. Because when we get to higher levels of consciousness we realize that it is ALL grace. God’s whole way of being with the cosmos is grace. We are never removed from grace. It permeates everything. Don’t know if this is helpful to you at this particular moment, but it is what I thought of when I read your post. And Happy Thanksgiving and Happy lamenting. Happy being God’s own in this journey of life.


    • That is really lovely and helpful. Thank you. George Herbert is perfect. My own inner space when I wrote that post was more grouchy than agonized, and yet Herbert touches the sore spot, even so.

      The Bourgeault/Gurdjieff course sounds really wonderful,and your comments on grace are really timely for me. I have been thinking about grace and justice a lot lately. A speaker in our chapel at Lancaster Mennonite High School last week spoke of “the scandal of grace” and “scandalous grace.” It really woke up something in me, moving beyond grace as the sweet and gentle opposite of fierce and angry justice. It’s helpful to remember that justice is also love, and that grace can be as fierce and scandalous and all-permeating as the cosmos itself.

      Thank you for your words.


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