The Backward-Looking Act of Thanksgiving

“It is probable that in most of us the spiritual life is impoverished and stunted because we give so little place to gratitude. It is more important to thank God for blessings received than to pray for them beforehand. For that forward-looking prayer, though right as an expression of dependence upon God, is still self-centered in part, at least, of its interest; there is something we hope to gain by our prayer. But the backward-looking act of thanksgiving is quite free from this.  In itself it is quite selfless. Thus it is akin to love. All our love for God is in response to his love for us; it never starts on our side. ‘We love, because he first loved us.’ (1 John 4:19)” – William Temple, Archbishop of Canterbury during World War II

Looking backwards, I am thankful for a several days with my family, for my grandparents living close enough to be there, for friends from far away, and for family friends who I have known as long as I can remember. I am thankful for good food, long hours at the table, and three different kinds of pie in one sitting. I am thankful for stories and memories, Bee Gees impressions, and the type of deep laughter that you can’t keep in. I am thankful for my life in DC, for a home that I love, amazing roommates, and dear friends. I am thankful for a church I cherish, for professors who challenge, and for a job that I love. I am thankful for a beautiful fall, for the promising winds of winter, and for the excitement that comes with looking forward to Christmas. I am thankful for 5 Guys burgers, salted caramel hot chocolates from Starbucks, and Chipotle. I am thankful for long walks with James and evenings watching Gilmore Girls with Sarah and Liz.  Looking backwards, I am thankful for the many things that I forgot to appreciate as they were passing. 

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2 Responses to The Backward-Looking Act of Thanksgiving

  1. Shannon says:

    Beautiful, Hannah. And a very good reminder. Thank you.

  2. Liz says:

    I’m thankful for you, too!

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