Every year at this time I point out that true gratitude requires both an object and an subject. This year I’m adding another ingredient: awareness. As we gather around a meal and time with family this Thanksgiving, my hope is that these considerations will reverberate within our souls.
True thankfulness needs a object. We experience varying levels of gratitude everyday. From the common: “I’m so glad I found a parking spot.” to the profound: “I’m so glad you are still alive.” We rarely lack an object of gratitude. We can all find something for which we are thankful. This is about as far as it goes for some people. Those who struggle with gratitude are wrestling with entitlement.
For what are you thankful? What is it that helped you, graced you or comforted you? What advantage, or freedom, or joy do you possess because of it? Is your list growing? The object is the easy part. We are thankful FOR objects, but does that make us truly thankful?
True thankfulness needs a subject. When we experience deep gratitude, too often the subject is presupposed or taken for granted. Let’s say a loved one is back from a military tour in a war zone. We would be thankful FOR the loved one being reunited, but often we overlook the authority to which our gratitude is directed.
We are thankful TO subjects, FOR objects. In the above example we would be thankful to the Military for allowing leave. We are thankful to our employers for the day off. This takes a bit more consideration before this becomes visible, but as we do this a deeper gratitude emerges, but are we truly thankful yet?
That’s why I’m adding a third ingredient. True thankfulness needs awareness. A small child is only enamored with the gift or object itself. As we get older, we recognize there is a giver beyond every gift, or a subject beyond every object. Too often we are unaware of this reality. Like an inner Veruca Salt, we focus on objects without awareness of the subjects behind them.
We’re not truly thankful until awareness rises enough to honor the subject behind the objects. On the horizontal plane, these subjects are our parents, family members, friends, coaches, teachers, first responders, pastors, employers, and leaders, but awareness goes further.
Awareness goes to a vertical plane or an inward deeper dimension. As our awareness of the subject and object enlarges, we gain a perspective on how all things connect together. We’re not silos unto ourself. People of faith are glimpsing a Subject beyond everything. A Subject that is an uncaused cause for all things, a Thread that ties all things together. Whether we recognize it or not, this is the Subject behind the gratitude we experience for our lives the moment we become aware of all the variables we can’t control. This level of gratitude displaces randomness, chance, or luck.
Whether you subscribe to the spiritual plane or not, gratitude is within your grasp each and every moment. May we all become increasingly aware of the Subject behind all the objects for which we are thankful. May we not fear exploring how far our gratitude can take us and how this awareness may change us and the rest of the world.