Rev. Susan Bantz
Rev. Susan Bantz
The Rev. Susan Bantz serves as the pastor of Grace Lutheran Church. She lives in Muscatine where she shares a home with her two Chinese Crested dogs, Affie and Reggie, and tries to find time to read after all the chores are done.

Muscatine Living

Each year around this time, I am reminded of how I’ve failed.

Like many people, I get notifications from Facebook that this is November, the month of Thanksgiving, in which I should remember (and, of course, post!) something I’m thankful for each day. And each November, I give it a try but inevitably I forget one day, then another and another until I just give up. (Kind of sounds like New Year’s resolutions, doesn’t it? I’m not good at those, either!)

Here’s the thing—my intentions are good, but my follow-through? Not so much.

It’s at times like these when I recall something I really admire about Judaism. That faith makes it a practice to give thanks for all kinds of things and there is even a formula for doing so to make it easy. “Blessed are you, O Lord our God, Ruler of the Universe, who . . . ” begins each prayer and reminds the pray-er that God is present in all things, good and bad. There are blessings to be said upon waking, upon eating, upon seeing something beautiful or unusual, even upon going to the bathroom! There is a tradition among some Jews that they should say 100 blessings each day. Wouldn’t that be an amazing accomplishment?!

So why is it so hard for me to remember even ONE thing each day for which I am thankful? Maybe it is because we don’t live in a culture that really supports the idea of finding the good in life. After all, it is so much easier to find things about which to complain. The Yiddish word for that is “kvetching” and unfortunately, we are much better at kvetching than blessing. Just look at the news we see every day—the focus is almost entirely negative.

How would our world be different if we all focused on the good things instead? I don’t mean ignoring the bad things, just actively seeking things for which to be thankful. Could we be changed, made more aware of all the blessings that surround us? Could that help our world become a kinder, gentler place?

I’ll get us started. I saw the most beautiful, vibrant double rainbow stretched across an apricot sky–thank you, God, for that glorious sight. My church’s neighbor is harvesting his corn crop–thank you, God, that farmers like him are willing to work so hard to grow food for others. The sun is shining after days of cold and rain—thank you, God, for the rain we so desperately needed and also for the sun that warms our day. My co-workers are laughing down the hall—thank you, God, for laughter and for people who enjoy being together and working for you.

That wasn’t so hard! I’m going to try to be more intentional about finding things to be thankful for every day so it becomes a habit all year long. In fact, I’m taking on a new motto. I hope you’ll join me:

“Don’t kvetch–Bless!”

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