I offer you on this day of bounty not one, but two thanksgiving prayers. I do this to acknowledge that we do not all approach this feast under the same set of circumstances. Some gather at the table encircled by a family that genuinely enjoys one another’s company and laden with so much food folks have to unbutton pants to achieve post-meal comfort. Others sit in tension with those around the table, or perhaps with no one at all. Maybe not even at a table. Some of us are missing people we love. Others are worried about our health. We might be feeling more worried, or sad or even resentful than grateful. But no matter the circumstance let us find a way to say thanks, for there is always, always, always something for which to be grateful.
A Threefold Ask
God of all Creation,
Grant us on this day hearts of gratitude
for the uncountable gifts you give us –
gifts not only for our survival but for our pure pleasure.
For why else would you give us maple syrup and autumn leaves and puppies?
We give thanks for our food, our families and friends.
We give thanks for lakes and mountains and sky.
We give thanks for more gifts than we can name or count.
Grant us also on this day hearts of generosity and compassion
for those who benefit less than we do from the bounty of the earth.
Those who do not have enough food to eat or whose lives are fraught with suffering.
Help us, in our blessedness, to reach out to them and share our bounty.
And, grant us on this day hearts of justice
So that we not only desire but act
for a world in which your gifts are shared by all.
The Reluctant Thanksgiving
On this Thanksgiving Day, O God, I am filled with anxious thoughts.
I know I am only one among many who find it hard to be grateful
because I long for things to be different than they are.
I am one with the bereaved.
I am one with the worried.
I am one with the lost or angry or hurt.
Help me find that small crack of light that reminds me that you are with me in my pain.
Help me give thanks for my life
Because that means there is new possibility before me.
Help me give thanks for glimpses of beauty
Because sunsets and autumn leaves and walks in the woods are healing.
Help me give thanks for the small acts of kindness extended by strangers
Because they are signs of your love for me.
Give me the strength to have faith in a better time
Give me hope for renewal.
Give me love for my neighbour.
Give me, your reluctant pray-er, a heart of gratitude in my time of longing.
Christine Way Skinner has been a pastoral minister for thirty years and has recently
begun a doctoral program in theology at St. Michael’s College. Together with her
husband, Michael, she has parented six wonderful children. She has written a number
of books for Novalis on living the Catholic faith for both adults and children.