Please and thank you come as easily smiling for me. They were taught and modeled in front of me and no one ever gets mad at you for saying thank you.
“It seems that gratitude without practice may be a little like faith without works—it’s not alive.” The Gifts of Imperfection, Brene Brown
She says practice. Gratitude is not an attitude but a practice. And I need practice.
I closed myself up yesterday, pulling the gray from outside around me like a scratchy blanket. My heart dipping in sorrow thinking about mama’s advancing dementia, thinking about my loss, my sisters burden. There wasn’t much thanks being said, no gratitude practiced. I allowed it.
I flipped through family pictures of last year’s Thanksgiving. Smiling at our granddaughters laughter as a puppy licked her right in the mouth but again, sorrow pricked seeing my mother-in-law who will be absent our table this year. She’s gone to a grander celebration and left us to miss her.
I plan Sunday chapel service. I always do whether we’re here or out-of-town. It’s a control thing. Last week when my heart was singing a happier song I planned our time spent in community worship to focus on giving thanks. Our songs would be praises, we would give prayers and speak words of praise and thanks and gratefulness. And we did. They did. And five days ago God knew I needed this more than anyone in that chapel.
When they were invited to give their prayers of thanks their voices were eager to share. I strained to hear them, speaking at that quieter prayer voice I guess, and I missed to many. We sang and they were invited to share their thanks. Again, eager but I could hear them as they stood and I smiled and fought back tears because they were my sermon of love.
This tall one stood, giving thanks, still surprised he is accepted and loved. And the one they call Papa Bear, he stood and said he came for hope but got so much more. Another and another and they kept standing thanking God for “one more minute”, for life, for another chance. They practiced gratitude and it made their faith alive.
Please and thank you are nice but not enough. Not enough to produce gratitude. That takes practice.