Thankfulness, To and For
“What are you thankful for?” is a tough question. It’s sort of an annual version of “how are you doing?” One isn’t supposed to embark on an extended dissertation on the profundities of life, but it somehow feels as if a packaged response diminishes the courtesy of the question. “What are you thankful for?” “Oh, the usual.”
And so, at the tail end of last week’s Violent Roundtable, on WPRO, my response to the question was, essentially, “ditto.” During the taping of this week’s Political Roundtable on WRNI (airing tomorrow at 5:40 and 7:40 a.m.), I found myself expressing gratitude for corruption.
Hovering between cliché and theological depth is a dangerous place to be.
Thanks, therefore, to Marc, for posting President Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation, which gives a helpful context for appropriate responses (emphasis added):
WHEREAS it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favour; and Whereas both Houfes of Congress have, by their joint committee, requefted me “to recommend to the people of the United States a DAY OF PUBLICK THANSGIVING and PRAYER, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to eftablifh a form of government for their safety and happiness:”
To be sure, we’re grateful to friends, families, and institutions for their affections and assistance, and we’re grateful for the fact that friends and family exist. But if the particular gratitude for which we designate the day is to God, then those things that are more immediately pleasurable in the personal fulfillment that they provide should be joined by those things that enable us to strive and suffer and overcome, ultimately by God’s grace.
Corruption and suffering are sometimes like the pain of muscles made sore through exercise, and they are sometimes the sharp lap of flames that urge us away from fatal danger. A deeper personal fulfillment cannot be reached with a skip and a waltz, and for the existence of that transcendent objective, we should be thankful.