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.
I love this painting by Horace Pippin. Horace was a Black man who lived in the USA a long-time ago, but not that long ago. He lived at a time when Black and White people had to use different water fountains, sit in different parts of a movie theater, eat at different restaurants, and go to different schools.