Thankfulness beats winter doldrums

By FATHER JIM

As January bids farewell and February advances in a cloudy, chilled way — though short of days — some complain and feel only the harshness mid winter.

But a spirit and heart of thankfulness, even an attitude of gratitude, really carry the faithful person of any age toward the promise of spring.

They say money can’t buy everything, but it can buy a lot of things. The thrill to shoot an endangered rhino in Africa goes for $250,000. For some people, a doctor’s private cellphone number goes for $1,500 in large cities.

Much can be bought, but not thankfulness. Thankfulness is an acquired gift, a virtue like any gift or talent that needs practice.

A prominent Duke University Medical Center researcher said, “If thankfulness were a drug, it would be the world’s best-selling product because of its health benefits for every major human organ system.”

For some who practice this art and virtue, it means, simply, living with a sense of gratitude and taking time to recognize and focus on the things we have instead of the things we wish we had.

The Word in scripture we celebrate so often takes the idea of thankfulness to a deeper level. The act of giving thanks causes us to recognize the God who provides our ordinary and special blessings (Epistle of James 1:17)

Thankfulness cannot be bought or purchased. Sure, you might wish ice, slush and windy cold instantly could be changed to blue sky and a warm breeze. But being grateful for bare tree branches painted with a brushing of white snow or crystal-like ice reminds one of the Creator’s surprises.
Even in mid winter, there’s Good News and more — Good News, especially for the person of faith who sees with a spiritual eye.

The famous painting by the Italian artist Giotto, “St Francis Preaching to the Birds,” glows with vivid color and shows the saint leaning toward the birds perched in branches and the birds leaning toward Francis, as if the saint and God’s humble creatures are fascinated and thankful for the gift of each other.

More winter days and weather are ahead of us, and always more sad moments, setbacks, problems and challenges in our ordinary living, but let’s polish up and practice the gift of being grateful and what we can say “thanks” for.

Just a suggestion!