Recently, with Thanksgiving getting closer on the calendar, I have had a line from a song stuck in my head. “Give thanks with a grateful heart; give thanks to the Holy One”. This is a worship song heard often in church when I was a child. I didn’t question the words when I was younger but this year I have been wondering about this “grateful heart” I keep singing about. You see, in our North American wellness culture—something promoted by companies selling us ointments, activewear and books, and the easy-to-digest proverbs on sites like Instagram—I worry we are conflating gratitude and happiness.
Although we had some warm weather recently it’s hard to believe that it is, indeed, Spring. Certainly, when the majority of the snow melted away in March we had begun to believe it. But then the cold wind and snow returned and it feels like Winter once again. However, despite this weather, I am seeing all sorts of new life budding in our town right now.
The question has been posed, “Why, on earth, would we celebrate Lent this year when we’ve already given up so much?” Why give up meat, or chocolate, or television when we’ve already given up connection, closeness, shared meals and travel. Why make the next five weeks even more unbearable when we’re clinging to the simple pleasures we have in order to survive?