Tuesday, October 16, 2007


On a superficial level, the giving of thanks is merely a social convention. Its forms vary greatly. In some societies the absence of all verbal expressions of thanks indicates not a lack of gratitude, but rather a deeper awareness of mutual belonging than our society has. To the people in question, an expression like “thank you” would seem as inappropriate as tipping family members would seem to us. The more we lose the sense of all of us belonging to one big family, the more we must explicitly express that belonging when it is actualized in some give-and-take. To give thanks means to give expression to mutual belonging. Genuine thanksgiving comes from the heart where we are rooted in universal belonging.

Wholehearted thanksgiving engages the whole person. The intellect recognizes a gift as gift. Thanksgiving presupposes thinking. The will, in its turn, acknowledges the interdependence of the giver and thanksgiver. And the emotions celebrate the joy of that mutual belonging. Only when intellect, will, and emotions join together does thanksgiving become genuine, that is, wholehearted.

-- Brother David Steindl-Rast

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