It’s rather remarkable that for everything else it is, Thanksgiving is fundamentally a day set aside for gratitude. Even though attention is often turned toward the delectable dishes we get to enjoy, it’s nevertheless a day to consider the gifts of grace we enjoy individually and as members of the larger community.
But sometimes gratitude can be hard to come by. Those of us who live face-to-face with an aggressive diagnosis or with other occasions for grief can find it difficult to be full of gratitude, even on an officially sanctioned day to do just that. Since my own diagnosis almost four years ago, I know how often fear, uncertainty, and grief make insistent pleas for my allegiance, even when I’m “supposed” to be cultivating gratitude.
In the face of fear and uncertainty’s nagging presence, I attempt—with varying degrees of success—to keep them at bay. While they tempt me with lists of anxious questions (Will still be around next Christmas? For the girls’ high school graduations? Will I make it to 50?), I try and turn my attention elsewhere. One of the best “elsewhere’s” I’ve found is through the practice of daily morning prayer. It is the case that I often wake to thoughts of fear; in response, I move through a litany of prayers of gratitude for this day.