Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Thanksgiving: Moving from Distraction to Gratefulness

Mississippi River

“O taste and see that the Lord is good.” Psalm 34:8

A Million Miles Away
How often we are distracted! Although physically we may be present in one location, mentally we can be a million miles away. We live in an unsettled society where everyone is preoccupied and anxious. Driver all around us swerve and nearly veer off the road—they are distracted with sending a text message or talking on the phone. They are preoccupied with everything but driving!

It is not only the “other guy,” however, who is not present to the moment. We too are engrossed with reviewing our to-do list, arguing with someone in our mind, or worrying about the future. In the midst of all this distraction, we are so often anything but present. And—if we are honest with ourselves—in our preoccupation, we are anything but grateful.

Practice of Place
That is why it is so important to continually come back to the present. Only in the present can I truly appreciate all that God has given me. Only in the here and now do I see his goodness. Only in the present moment will I take time to thank God.

One practice that I have observed the past couple of months is the “Practice of Place.” Throughout the day I ask myself the simple question: Where are you? That question breaks into my day and interrupts my preoccupation. Drawing me back from my mental wanderings, it locates my attention right here right now.

Once I’m in the present, I begin to notice what is around me: the rolling hills of the farmland on my drive home from work, beautiful flowers or colored leaves, our warm home. In the present moment I remember family and friends who are a blessing in my life. It is in the reality of place that I am able to let go of my anxious thoughts of tomorrow in order to appreciate the blessings of today.

In that fresh realization of the many blessings that surround me, I find that gratefulness rises in my heart. Gratitude replaces anxiety and any number of other preoccupied thoughts in my mind.

As we approach Thanksgiving this year, I am making the Practice of Place a part of my daily rhythm. Breaking into all the business and activity of the day, I am asking myself: Where am I? What do I see? During meals, I ask myself: What do I smell and what do I taste? Instead of rushing through the food set before me, I take time to enjoy it, appreciate it and express thanks for it.

Each time I come back to the present, I find something to be ever so thankful for. In this way I also hope to make thanksgiving more than simply one day focused on expressing thanks to the Lord, but rather to cultivate a grateful heart through the other 364 days of the year.

© 2013 Glenn E. Myers

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