The word gratitude means “appreciation of benefits received” and comes from the Latin, “gratus“, which is also the derivation of grace, a word with many meanings, including “the quality or state of being considerate or thoughtful” and “divine assistance“.
The expression “grace under fire” usually refers to someone remaining calm under duress. Using the above definitions of grace I offer a larger meaning to this expression: recognition, with gratitude, that we are the receiver of gifts, even when under duress. These gifts may include empathy, compassion, acts of kindness and love. No matter how small or large, these are the gifts of grace from others. Certainly recognition that these gifts are there for us can steady us in the storms of life.
When we express gratitude we are manifesting grace, our thankfulness shows consideration to the giver. We also attain grace when we are the givers of kindness, empathy, help, compassion, and love. Grace flows, it connects us to others and to Spirit. It helps us remember there is good in the world and we are both the receivers of and, when acting with grace, the givers of this goodness.
Even in the most challenging of times personally or in our larger communities, there are elements of grace, acts of kindness and blessings received.
We do not need a calendar date to express gratitude for the grace in our lives, nor to pass it on. However, Thanksgiving, originally a holiday based on a myth, a misinterpretation of history*, has become a time to give thanks for the abundances in our lives. It is a good time to pause, focusing on what we are grateful for, and an excellent time to express not only our gratitude, but to offer our gifts of grace to others.
Gratitude and grace, when practiced often, will change our lives and the lives of others. May you be filled with gratitude and grace this week, regardless of the challenges you may be facing.
*To read about the myth of a ‘first’ Thanksgiving, this is one of several excellent articles at the National Museum of the American Indian: Everyone’s history matters: The Wampanoag Indian Thanksgiving story deserves to be known