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Thanksgiving reflection 2022: Grateful in Uncertain Times

During this season of Thanksgiving, let us focus on being grateful in uncertain times. Saint Mother Theodore certainly showed us the way!

Our gratitude begins with acknowledging the land on which we live. My home is in Silver Spring, Md., the traditional and contemporary homeland of the Piscataway and Anacostan people. Who are the original stewards of the land where you live? Every day, and especially this Thanksgiving season, we give thanks for the indigenous peoples whose lands we are privileged to share.

This is a season to be grateful, to say thank you, even as illness, war, racism, scarcity and greed, climate disasters, political unrest, and so many more uncertainties surround us.

It is a time to appreciate what we have, to focus on what is good in our lives, and to pause to notice what we often take for granted.

Breathe in Gratitude. Breathe out thank you.

Saint Mother Theodore inspires us to be grateful

“With hearts full of gratitude we offered our thanks to God for all the benefits bestowed on us.” – Mother Theodore

“Thank God now with all your heart, seeing that (God) removes obstacles to your advancement and gives the opportunity of doing good work.” – Mother Theodore

“It is impossible to answer all the kind things you say to me except by a sentiment of profound gratitude. I can express it only to God, who understands the language of the heart.” – Mother Theodore

What do we hear in Mother Theodore’s words that invites us to be grateful?

Gratitude can be important for overall well-being

Gratitude improves mental well-being. When we give thanks, we relax. New research shows that people who show gratitude regularly show significantly better mental health than those who do not express their thanks. In fact, brain scans suggest that gratitude might even have the power to rewire our brains for the better.

Blessed are you, Divine Gratitude, for calling us to be grateful and boost our mental well-being.

Gratitude develops physical well-being. It slows us down, and reminds us to live in the present moment. It helps with better sleep and immunity, and may even be linked to reducing pain and improving cardiovascular health.

Blessed are you, Divine Gratitude, for calling us to be grateful, to slow down, strengthen our immune systems, and enhance our physical well-being.

Expressing gratitude connects us with people and builds resilience. It creates stronger social bonds and improves relationships. It helps us refocus positive emotions and build resilience, which in turn, empowers us to bounce back from the hardships we face.

Blessed are you, Divine Gratitude, for calling us to be grateful, to connect with others, to enhance our relationships, to be resilient.

Practice gratitude

Here are some suggestions:

Keep a gratitude journal and set aside time each day to think or write about three things that you are grateful for: Perhaps gratitude for the Providence Community, for a friend, and for yourself.

Write a gratitude letter to yourself or someone else once a week.

Set a goal for yourself to tell someone every day that you appreciate them.

Light a gratitude candle at dinner time, and ask each person to say something they are grateful for that day.

Create and give a “Gratitude Basket” to a family – at a food pantry, in your neighborhood, or as part of an outreach endeavor.

Blessings of Gratitude

With Saint Mother Theodore Guerin as our wise ancestor, let us go forth grateful,

… for every breath we take.

… for the life we have been given.

… for the Providence Community and wise ancestors who guide us.

… for Earth and the cosmos, trees and birds, flowers and animals, the Woods and the land on which we live.

Before you go to sleep tonight, name three blessings. Write them in a “grateful journal.” Filled with gratitude, may you sleep well tonight!

Thank you for being part of the Providence Community! Happy Thanksgiving!

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Diann Neu

Diann L. Neu is a Providence Associate who lives in Silver Spring, Maryland. She is a graduate of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, a former Sister of Providence, and co-founder and co-director with Mary E. Hunt of WATER, the Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual, http://www.waterwomensalliance.org

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3 Comments

  1. Donna Butler on November 24, 2022 at 9:21 am

    Diane,
    I am grateful for you and Mary and all the good you do for our world. Thank you for this reflection with great information and suggestions. Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. Connie SP on November 24, 2022 at 10:39 am

    Thanks Diann for this beautiful reflection on gratitude. Hope you have a blessed Thanksgiving Day.

  3. Susan Paweski, SP on December 1, 2022 at 3:50 pm

    Diann, thank you for sharing this reflection that can be used on several occasions. It is so meaningful.

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