A lively, gifted woman, someone who is in Washington with her family for just this year, sat down on the floor and gathered the children around her on Sunday. She lost her mother just two weeks ago and is grieving. She had a valid reason to cancel or postpone her time with the children. But instead she fully showed up and offered a children's sermon that is still speaking to me.
She recalled with the children the Thanksgiving after the Colorado Rockies lost the World Series. Her family was not only disappointed, her uncle was angry. Instead of going around the table to share what they were most thankful for prior to carving the turkey, this angry uncle invited everyone to articular their anger. "What are you angry about this year?"
The family all took turns, and anger soon consumed the room, enough anger that someone suggested a do-over. "Let's now share what we're thankful for this year." Each person again took their turn, and the mood of the room brightened as the anger dissipated.
I suspect that if we were offered an opportunity to respond to the question, "What are you angry about?" tomorrow, we might have plenty to say. I can offer my list of top ten reasons to be angry in a matter of minutes. But I'm not sure such an exercise leads me to a place of life, let alone joy.
I was reminded last week with the children that thanksgiving is a choice. Every single day we can choose to dwell on all that is wrong, on all we do not have, on all that is not living up to our expectations. We can choose to allow anger and disappointment to be our most powerful emotions.
Or we can choose to be thankful - to see how in the midst of our disappointment or sadness or anger, there are countless reasons to be thankful.
I choose thanksgiving - not just the feast and the excuse to indulge - but the spirit of saying "thank you" and embodying gratitude.
What about you?