Pastor’s Corner (11/14/19)
“Gratitude is the memory of the heart.”
Noted author Diana Butler Bass begins her newest book Grateful: The Transformative Power of Giving Thanks with the above quote. Bass has written nine other books with a focus on American religion and spirituality. She was guest speaking in Lincoln this past weekend, November 8-10. In her newest book, she invites us to ponder the issue of gratitude.
She began her presentation on Saturday with a discussion of the tension between fear/anxiety and gratitude. As a primitive emotion centered in the very base of our brains, fear is a universal experience and, as such, sells. All creatures share this basic experience. That would explain why the Bible invites us to set aside fear, it is a basic, instinctual experience and response to the unknown. Setting aside our fear makes it possible for us to embrace experiences like gratitude. Compassion, empathy, and gratitude all reside in the higher more developed parts of our brains, so we must work to cultivate them. One of the primary functions of faith is to help its followers develop and act out of these experiences of compassion, empathy, and gratitude instead of reacting to the instincts of fear and anxiety.
As we move closer to the Thanksgiving holiday, we are invited to consider what it would mean to truly embrace a life stance of gratitude. A copy of Bass’s book will be in our library and I invite you to consider reading it. She takes us more deeply into this topic than we usually go, and, it is a fun read.
During her presentation Bass invited us to consider four qualities of gratitude.
- Gratitude allows us to celebrate the present
- Gratitude blocks negative emotions like fear and anxiety
- Gratitude enables us to deal with stress more effectively
- Gratitude helps us strengthen social ties
While gratitude is a complex emotion and difficult to describe, we all instinctively know its value and keenly feel its absence. In addition to being an emotion, gratitude can also inspire action. As we move through this Thanksgiving season, may we be inspired to consider the untapped depths of gratitude in our own lives, in our congregation, and in our community. May we be inspired to embrace the emotion of gratitude and the practice of it, as well. My hope is that each of us, and all of us, will experience the transformative power of giving thanks, not just at Thanksgiving but throughout the year.
With a truly thankful heart,