Gratitude and Repentance, Part One

Dan begins a series about the connection between gratitude and repentance. Thanksgiving is not often thought of as a holiday for repentance, however, gratitude and repentance are reflections of one another.

“I’m not saying Thanksgiving celebrations should be a context for confession, but you cannot have repentance without confession and repentance, I’m going to claim, is the key to entry into gratitude.”

He also notes that there are few celebrations that are purely about gratitude or giving thanks. Often, as is the case with birthday, graduation, and housewarming parties, they are about a performance or status achieved.

Though Thanksgiving is a time for gratitude, oftentimes our celebrations do not include what is required for deep gratitude to occur. What we experience more often than not are the memories or remembrance of the blessings we have received throughout the past year.

“Gratitude implies something has been given that is undeserved.”

The only way we can celebrate true gratitude, Dan states, is if we acknowledge three factors, which include:

  1. Emptiness, or the sense that I am not complete in and of myself.
  2. Desperate, or the times when I’m empty and hungry that prompts movement.
  3. Inadequate, or that I myself am not able to provide for what I need.

“What is it that you are truly grateful for? Blessings are the gifts that we know are the probability of good hard work, or the probability of being who we are and becoming who we would wish to be. That element of undeserved is where we cross the line into a level of public and private uncomfortability which makes it harder to engage the category of what it means to be deeply grateful for what it is that is brought into a point of being empty, feeling desperate, and acknowledging I can’t do this on my own.”

It is symptoms of trauma and fragmentation that create a context for this inner sense of feeling desperate and inadequate, which are not often discussed during Thanksgiving gatherings.

“Repentance is so much more freeing and life-giving than what most people perceive it to be. Repentance begins in the belly, with an awareness that there is something in our sense of self and physical reality that is other than what we know that it is not meant to be. That disparity between what I have experienced and what my heart desires. If you’re willing to step into the churning internal contradiction and external complexities—it’s the beginning of an awareness that it is time to come home.”