It is always a good time to stop and notice the hand of God in different aspects of our lives. But — given the stressful election cycle we have been through — thanking God for his blessings during this Thanksgiving could be a tonic for the soul.
Thanksgiving is an opportunity to give thanks and rejoice in the Lord who blesses each of us in so many ways. We give thanks for the gifts of family, friends, loved ones and for our country, which has provided opportunities, security and peace.
For me, a song I heard as a child encapsulates what it means to be grateful for what you have and, at the same time, be in awe of the gifts God has given.
This song of gratitude and thanksgiving was based on a song usually sung during the Jewish holiday of Passover. “Dayenu,” which is its main refrain, means “it would have been sufficient” or “it would have been enough.”
When this is sung at the Seder table, people recount the events of the Exodus — the escape from Egypt, the parting of the sea, the manna, the giving of the Torah and Shabbat — and thank God for each one. After each miracle, they respond “Dayenu.”
The words imply that even if nothing else happens to you, what you had in the first place would have been enough. God blessed you already, and that would have been enough; but in his magnanimity, he brings forth even more blessings.
This way of humbly reflecting on God’s love can make you immensely grateful.
In what ways have you already felt blessed when God surprised you with yet another little miracle?
Thanking God can help us to reflect on each step in life as a gift — instead of rushing to grasp the next thing we want. This can give us hope and help us to trust that God continues guiding us in our journey.
The word “Eucharist” itself means “thanksgiving,” and Jesus gave thanks before breaking bread at the Last Supper. Every time we celebrate Mass, it is an act of thanksgiving. Just counting out loud the many blessings we have received — both great and small — can make us say “Dayenu” and also see other gifts.
This reminded me of Thanksgiving, and of one of the things I like about this country: its willingness to reflect on the past with a positive outlook to the future, while tackling the current realities that affect us.
The focus on community during Thanksgiving — sharing a meal with family, friends and loved ones — is also something to be grateful for.
Now that we are heading toward Advent, recount the times God’s gifts were enough, to prepare to share these gifts and blessings with others during Christmas.
Maria-Pia Negro Chin is bilingual associate editor at Maryknoll Magazine.