With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I’m thinking about the concept of giving thanks. I’m pretty good at “saying” thanks, but it’s a bit different when it comes to “giving” thanks. To me, giving thanks requires a sincere faith that all is well — no matter what the outward circumstances may appear to be.
An article I read in the Christian Science Sentinel (June 21,1993) provided a good example to me. “Near the beginning of a solo trek that would take explorer Keith Nyitray across the rugged mountains of the Brooks Range in Alaska, he spent a month living near Old Crow in Canada’s Yukon Territory. There he met and lived with Ken Nukon, a Gwichin Indian elder. Despite a serious physical handicap [he had lost an arm many years earlier], he was “always thankful for all that he had.” In recounting the experience, Mr. Nyitray writes of his new friend’s joyous outlook on life: “The Creator, he said, gave him what he needed when he needed it; it was his task to recognize and appreciate those gifts. Throughout the day, as he went about his chores, I’d often hear him whisper: ‘Mahsi-choo—Thank you greatly.’” (See Keith Nyitray, “Alone Across the Arctic Crown,” National Geographic, April 1993, pp. 70-93.)
Mary Baker Eddy, the author of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, writes, “Are we really grateful for the good already received? Then we shall avail ourselves of the blessings we have, and thus be fitted to receive more. Gratitude is much more than a verbal expression of thanks. Action expresses more gratitude than speech” (p. 3:22). When we’re saying “thanks,” can we be like the Native American and feel that we’re giving thanks to God because we’re recognizing Her Fathering-Mothering presence in our lives? Even if we’re at a point of hopelessness there are still signs of God’s goodness all around us. Acknowledging that goodness can be a powerful, healing force.
For example, on the website christianscience.com there are many articles written by people who were healed of various illnesses through the power of gratitude. A woman who was suffering from asthma wrote one such article. When she called a friend for prayerful support, the friend suggested she start being grateful. The woman was in bed flat on her back and didn’t know where to begin. Eventually, she started with a few small things. She was grateful for her clean bed, the sunny day and a quiet place to pray. Her list began to grow over the next several days — even though there was no apparent physical progress. Then one evening she went to a weekly gratitude meeting at the camp where she was employed for the summer. After expressing gratitude for her improved outlook, she knew she was healed. The physical symptoms faded shortly thereafter. The author of the article was writing 20 years after the experience and has been free from asthma ever since (Oct. 11, 2004 Christian Science Sentinel).
Gratitude — it’s a healing attitude! As both stories suggest, it can be as simple as being grateful for a sunny day that gets the mental wheels turning. This Thanksgiving let’s celebrate the power of gratitude. We can feel the beneficial effects of this power, and so can our families, our communities and our world.
Katie Martin is a member of the Christian Science church at 22 Inn St. in downtown Newburyport. The church will be hosting a Thanksgiving service open to the public on Thanksgiving Day from 10-11 a.m. Testimonies of gratitude and healing will be shared by congregants in addition to singing of hymns, and listening to readings from the Bible and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. No collection will be taken. For more information, log on to christiansciencenewburyport.com.