On my travels around the parishes, I’ve become increasingly aware these past few days of the buds on the trees and of the evenings lengthening and of one or two milder days (notice that I didn’t mention anything about rain!!!). All of this means that Spring is almost upon us. And this is something to give thanks for.
Thankfulness is an attitude central to Christian belief… it is a Christian virtue. The great medieval mystic, Meister Eckhardt, once said:
“If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.”
It’s an easy prayer to memorise. To say, “Thank you”, is simple and straightforward. But if the truth be told, it’s something we sometimes forget. As I was writing this article, I thought about this simple prayer of gratitude and I’ve been wondering if it’s enough. Is it enough simply to feel thankful for one’s blessings and to say so? Well, on one level I would say, certainly it is enough if it comes from the heart. But on another level I would say it may be enough, but it’s hardly sufficient to fulfil the full meaning of what thanksgiving is all about.
Thanksgiving is both an attitude and a response, it’s both faith and works. Thankfulness should spur us on to help to ensure that others can enjoy too the many blessings that we have received. This might mean volunteering for something such as helping the homeless and marginalised. It might mean campaigning for the upholding of human rights or for prisoners of conscience, to name but a few. It might also mean a response which involves an increase in prayer.
On a personal note, on behalf of Antonia and myself, I’d like to thank you all for your generosity and good wishes and warm welcome on our arrival in The Crediton Benefice Mission Community. Thank you too for making my Institution and Induction service such a memorable occasion. Your many kindnesses have meant so very much to us. Thank you!
One of my great interests is art, especially paintings, and one of my favourite works is Noli me Tangere (in English ‘Touch me not’) by Titian. The original hangs in the National Gallery in London and is, to my mind, a powerful and moving image of the Resurrection. In the painting Mary Magdalene reaches out to touch Christ, but as we are told in St John’s Gospel, Jesus says to her, ‘Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father.’