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By Pastor Paul Gauche

Today’s Word: ‘Thanksgiving’ as in… Don’t miss the link to the beautiful video at the end!

I was in a conversation about the experience of thankfulness and feeling overwhelmed with gratitude and how those always lead to joy. That prompted the question, “Is there a difference between gratitude and thankfulness? The answer is yes. But it’s a subtle difference.

Thankfulness is what I experience when my friend speaks just the right words at just the right moment; words of affirmation, absolution, direction, insight, guidance, and love which causes me to respond with ‘thank you’. Thankfulness happens in that moment.

Thankfulness is what I feel when I open the email and read the words: “Your Test Result Is NEGATIVE for SARS-CoV-2 / COVID19”. Thankfulness happens in that moment.

Thankfulness is my response to the barista who mysteriously knows it’s me there in the drive though, and with a cheery, welcoming voice calls be by name and says “Good morning!” and then asks if I’m having “the usual.” Thankfulness happens in that moment.

Thankfulness happens in little moments like these; countless instances that take us beyond where we were just before they happened.

But then another moment arrives. We settle into a deeper awareness that we’re a bit beyond where we thought we were going to go. Gratitude happens in that moment.

Gratitude is that deep appreciation of the relationships that we have with friends who always know just what to say, when to say it, and even how to say it. Gratitude happens in that moment.

Gratitude is the profound reverence we can have for life whether positives are negative or negatives are positive because gratitude transcends the particular details and reminds us of the universal truth that life is precious and the breath we breathe is pure gift. Gratitude happens in that moment.

Gratitude is what we experience long after the caffeine in the dark roast has worked its magic and we savor the joy of something as simple as another person knowing our name and welcoming us into the moment. Gratitude happens in that moment.

If thankfulness begins in the mind first as a cognitive impulse leading to a verbal response of the words thank you, then gratitude settles into the heart where there are no words because what we’re experiencing is beyond any human vocabulary. Gratitude happens in that moment when we close our eyes, take in a big deep breath and encounter Something-Far-Greater than ourselves. Gratitude always takes us far beyond where we thought we were going to go.

Brother David Stendl-Rast in his now famous video “A Grateful Day provides a feast in 5 minutes and 22 seconds. Watch this just before you enjoy and share a meal this Thanksgiving. You’ll be thankful, grateful and filled with joy.


Paul Gauche is the Pastor of Life Transitions at Prince of Peace. His posts are part of his #100days50words project, where be blogs about a different word each day. You can follow his project on Instagram (@pgauche), or on his blog, Thriving Rhythms.

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