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November 9, 2013

The power of giving thanks

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.

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