It is not the happy people who are thankful; it is the thankful people who are happy.
Things turn out best for the people who make the best of how things turn out. –Art Linkletter
It was early morning in the big airport. The weather was very bad. Passengers were waiting to find out whether their flights would be delayed, or even cancelled. Ahead of me in the line was a little gray-haired lady. Ahead of her was a man, red-eyed and rumpled, who evidently had just flown in from the West Coast. He was giving the agent a hard time. His flight had been very rough. He hadn’t slept. His plane had been stacked up over the airport for an hour. There hadn’t been enough coffee on board for breakfast; some passengers had to do without. He thought this was disgraceful. He said so, loudly.
The agent looked tired himself, but he was patient and polite. He apologized for the weather and for the plane’s late arrival.
“But the coffee!” snapped the man irately. “There’s no excuse! How do you account for that?”
Before the agent could attempt a reply, the old lady reached out and tapped the man on the shoulder. She said mildly, “Do you mind if I say something to you?”
The man turned, looking surprised.
“Sir,” said the old lady, “you have just traveled across an entire continent in five or six hours. You were lifted above the clouds and drawn here through the skies where you saw the dawn rushing to meet you. You have just experienced a miracle that mankind could only dream about for thousands of years. And you stand there complaining about having no coffee!”
There was quite a long pause. Finally the man said, “Madam, you are quite right. Thanks for setting me straight. It will be a long time before I forget what you just said.” As he turned away, I was told that my flight would be two hours late. I found that I didn’t mind.
–Arthur Gordon, Guideposts, July 1989
I remember when I was a seminarian many years ago. I had a head-cold and went up to the infirmary to get some medicine. While I was waiting in the corridor of the infirmary, I saw one of the Brothers saying goodnight to two bedridden priests in his care. As he tucked the blanket of the first man under his chin, the old priest snarled, “Get your face out of mine. What do you think this is?”
When the Brother went into the next room and did the same thing for the other priest, the old man said, “Oh, Brother, you are really good to us, and before I go to sleep tonight, I am going to say a very special prayer of gratitude just for you.” As I was standing out there in the darkened corridor, the thought struck me like thunder: “Some day I am going to be one of those two priests. Which one?”
Then it came to me that I wouldn’t make that decision in old age. You don’t make decisions like that when you are old, and, contrary to the rumor, not everyone mellows with age. I realized then that I am making the decision right now. I am choosing a vision of life.
The present moment is the most important moment in my life. I am deciding my future and my old age right now. I must be acting on all the insights that l am getting now because one day, when I am the age of those two men in the infirmary, the habits of thinking that I have cultivated throughout my younger life will take over in me. And I will either say, “Get your face out of mine” or “Thank you, you are very kind, and I am going to say a special prayer of gratitude for you before I fall asleep.” I will be one of those two old people and so will you. And you and I are making our decisions right now in terms of this vision, in terms of the way we are looking at ourselves, at other people and at life.
–John Powell, Free to Be Me, © 1978, Argus Press
Romans 1:21 — For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.
I Thessalonians 5:16-18 — Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
I Timothy 4:4-5 — For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving.
Thou hast given so much to me,
Give one thing more, — a grateful heart…
–George Herbert (1593-1633)