1 Let Us Be Thankful | Traveling Light Blog by Travel Writer Colleen Friesen

Let Us Be Thankful


Abide with Us - Colleen Friesen

“For what we are about to receive, may the Lord make us truly thankful. Amen.”

I grew up with this prayer (along with various other versions of this theme).┬áIt was a good ‘go-to’ grace that generally preceded a meal.

But today, on this Canadian Thanksgiving, I’m thinking of taking this and giving it a twist. What if, instead of it being the standard grace before the groaning bounty of food, I breathed this same grateful phrase before things that I’m not usually quite as thankful for:

Like the sad fact of my father’s end of life circumstances, my broken relationship with my sister, my friends that are facing illness and hard life-and-death decisions, the drug-addled woman who was screaming in the square yesterday…all of it.

The facts are, no one gets through life unscathed.

I have discovered that my most painful lessons are the ones that have broken me open, inevitably resulting in an increased compassion and understanding for others. And isn’t it my goal to become as fully human as possible?

They say we also learn this same kind of empathetic understanding by reading fiction. I have never needed a study to convince me of that truism. Reading a great novel, or a memoir for that matter, is a magical opportunity to see and experience the world through someone else’s eyes; a chance to walk a mile in different shoes.

It would be really quite lovely if I could learn everything I needed to know by reading a great book (and it certainly won’t be for lack of trying). But I’ve learned I don’t get off the hook that easily.

Today, on this Thanksgiving Day, my plan is to practise the hardest grace of all; to be truly thankful for whatever I receive and to realize it’s all part of this school called life.

Make us truly thankful. Amen.

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6 Responses
  1. Mandy says:


  2. Laurie says:

    Very true… my mom was re-hospitalized late last night with her dual/competing diagnoses of bipolar episode and illeostomy management (the perfect shitstorm, as it were) so I’m right there with you. The hardest forms of gratitude are the ones that really move me from platitudes on moving photos to gritty & scraping brushes with true oneness among all living things. Thanks for this post.

  3. Colleen Friesen says:

    So sorry to hear about your mom and her ongoing battles. You’re right. It’s easy to plaster life with cute photos with great little quotes, but harder still to dig into life and practise grace…no matter what’s coming at us. Thanks Laurie.

  4. Colleen Friesen says:

    And Hallelujah too :)

  5. Elinor Warkentin says:

    Your story about your nephew is heartbreaking.
    It’s not easy to be thankful when life looks like an outhouse or to be thankful for whatever comes your way.
    I admire your persistence and resolution.

  6. Colleen Friesen says:

    Thanks Elinor
    It’s so strange…because although the situation was one of the hardest things we ever did, it was also one of the most rewarding. Life is nothing less than strange and wondrous.

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