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“I hung on to the remains of religion by one thin thread of thanks.”
 – G. K. Chesterton

LIFE IS OVERWHELMING right now for a lot of people in this tumultuous upside-down autumn – with its complex entanglement of concerns. I don’t know whatever creek we’re up without so much as a paddle, but it stinks!

Crises and disasters, both of natural and of human construct, seem to lurk at every turn and we are all feeling the effects – individually, in our families, our communities, our nation, and in our world. I’m tempted to say 2020 is a total catastrophe, but the hope inside of me habitually leaves room for redemption. I think that’s what God does with us.

Still, it’s not over yet. And something tells me that’s in the back of people’s minds too. Because when I’m talking with them, it’s not uncommon to pick up on the muted music of dread playing ever so faintly in the background.


The responsible party


Where can we turn for assurance? We feel insecure. Worse, many of us are also carrying (among other things) heavy feelings of grief, fear, anger, or hate. So who can we give this to?

This is the point in the sermon when the preacher with the plastic smile smugly says: “God,” but for a lot of folks, God is the responsible party. Who else could it be? Fair enough. So if you’re feeling that way, I suggest that you let God know. That is, if you haven’t lost your religion.


Thin threads of thanks


Whether or not you have lost it (your religion), may I suggest you begin by reaching up and taking ahold of the thread of gratitude – however thin it may be? Perhaps it may be only that you woke up today. That you had a particularly good cup of coffee. A comfortable pair of shoes to slip into. Or hot water in the tap to shower in. There are a lot of people in the world who didn’t have that!

You can go from there. Food to eat, a roof over your head, someone who cares for you. Maybe you’re lucky enough to have a job that energizes you, and better – that pays you. Maybe you saw a beautiful sunrise or got to pet a dog. Maybe you don’t have Covid, your knee is better, that spot you were worried about is benign. Again, not everyone . . .

The fall colors, the laughter of children, the warmth of the sun, the stars overhead. We can keep going with this if you’d like.

Take hold of that thread of blessing in your hand and give thanks.


Psalm 145


Psalm 145 is a perfect vehicle for the expression of praise and an entry point into gratitude at the most basic level:

The eyes of all look to you,
and you give them their food in due season. (v. 14-15)

Here’s a poetic expression inspired by it from Jim Cotter’s Psalms for a Pilgrim People (© 1989 Jim Cotter, Morehouse Publishing):



The rhythm of the drums,
the beat of the heart,
reliable and steady,
the voice of your faithfulness.

For the dawning of the light,
for the sun at mid-day,
for the shade of the evening,
we give thanks to our God.

For the rising of the moon,
for the guiding stars
for the comets on cue,
we give thanks to our God.

For the breaking of the fast,
for noontide’s refreshment,
for the meal around the table,
we give thanks to our God.

For the greening of the woodland,
for the grains of the harvest,
for the fruits in their season,
we give thanks to our God.

For the cry of the baby,
for the flowering of youth,
for the strength of maturity,
we give thanks to our God.

For laws that protect us,
for those on alert,
for the routines of safety,
we give thanks to our God.

For the fall of the autumn,
for the quiet of winter,
for the boundary of death,
we give thanks to our God.

For the trust of friends,
for the blessings of home,
for the covenants of love,
we give thanks to our God.

For the unfailingly generous,
for the wisdom of years,
for constant compassion,
we give thanks to our God.

For the hidden who serve us,
for the water and power,
for work taken for granted,
we give thanks to our God.


If you have no other way to begin letting go of your worries, no other path for prayer, reach out to the thin thread of thanks. It’s connected on the other end to a loving listener. Hopefully, you’ll find strands of it close by . . . if you are paying attention.