Monica E. Smith

Monica E. Smith

Monday, November 18, 2019

Reflection and Gratitude

This time of year always moves me to deeper thinking, because I increasingly tire of the world's decrying anything having to do with God or faith or humility, or even simple thankfulness. And that sentiment explodes with both barrels especially at this time of year. It's all about power and getting what you are "owed". Yes, there are pockets of movements for "random acts of kindness" that might get a few minutes on the news as a "feel-good piece" every once in a while around the holidays, but, in general, the world's mantra is "I want more and I want it now!" (and God help whomever gets in my way). The world views wealth and status as power -- more is more -- and sees humility, want and need as weakness. Add to that the increasing commercialism of Thanksgiving and Christmas especially. Even these have been reduced to nothing more than a list of things to buy or to get done, to check off and then move on to the next holiday without so much as a thought, let alone thankfulness...not much about which to feel joy. Each year the news reports, complete with video, about people waiting in line on Black Friday, or for Christmas sales. The countdown begins and the doors open, and the screaming hordes enter the store, no sign of kindness or gratitude, trying to be first so that they get what they want before anyone else takes it, trampling over people (as if they were not there) and screeching as though they were rabid animals. I sometimes want to scream out with Ebenezer Scrooge about needing to see some "depth of feeling"...! Is this what we have been reduced to?

I receive daily reflections (from, and have for some years now; I love starting my day this way, along with reading a daily Gospel or Bible chapter; the daily reflections are usually very short little blurbs taken from books, prayers, poems, homilies, etc. which I receive in email each morning. Some can be really profound, others just kind of give me a kick in the pants about something, or maybe inspire me to do something, or just to think (Heaven forbid!). I look at these kinds of feelings/moments as nudges from God -- things that I can't stop thinking about, or that I want to do to help someone, or just can't let go of; maybe God really does have an email account...

A recent daily reflection quote was seemingly simple, taken from a book by Matthew Kelly: "We are at our best when we are grateful." It is not that extremely profound, but it stuck with me because I try always to be thankful for the things and people in my life, even though things don't always turn out as I would like them. "Thank you" is the last thing I say to God each night -- for the day, the restful sleep I am about to enjoy, the opportunities that come my way, and especially for my husband, my children and all those I love, or who have come into my life. 

On the same day I read the quote from Matthew Kelly, I also came across an article about "Giving Thanks" written by Fr. Gary Yanus (Vicar General/Judicial Vicar for the Diocese of Cleveland). The article is worth the read, and can be found here: Northeast Ohio Catholic magazine; (click on November/December 2019 issue; it will be on page 30). It resonated because it, too, was about being grateful. The article was quite simple, but I feel so much like the author; and, as he reminisced, it reminded me of my childhood, too, and how thankful I still am for my  childhood, my parents and grandparents and entire family, how they never were embarrassed to express their faith, never wavered in expressing their love for me and my siblings or their gratefulness to God for life. It is an example I have tried to follow in my life, with my children and family.

Both the article by Fr. Yanus and the daily reflection by Matthew Kelly reminded me of what is important in life, of where all in life comes from, and that this life is a precious gift, that we should never take it for granted or wish things away (even the difficult times, as these are what help us to grow); the readings reminded me to always be grateful for the opportunities that come my way, and the people who bring them and their love to me. It was good to read something like this. Fr. Yanus spoke of childhood memories with such fondness and love and thanksgiving, I could not help but be moved; because, I too, have a great fondness for the recollections of my childhood, love for my family (then, as a child, and now, as a parent) and gratitude to those who help me realize that being a child of God is a most precious thing for which to be thankful. Wishing you all a happy Thanksgiving and holiday season, filled with love, good memories, gratitude, and peace.


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