Gratitude Expressed

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By: T F Stern
T F Stern’s Rantings

Thanksgiving Day has come and gone; let’s hope our expressions of gratitude extend throughout the year. This morning we heard thought provoking talks which had us consider what our “legacy” would be. Would we be valiant in sharing our testimonies, enough to merit the Spirit touching one soul or many? The closing lesson in today’s meetings centered on a talk given this past General Conference by Thomas S. Monson, The Divine Gift of Gratitude.

Gratitude was taught to me at an early age; a gift from my mother. I once wrote in a collection of thoughts given my own children, “My mother has always elevated any gifts I ever gave her by the manner in which she received those gifts. If I gave her wild flowers picked from the side of a road they were placed in a prominent place in the house for all to see. If I wrote a short story she would praise me for having shared it so well. By her example she has taught me part of what God wants me to know, that to receive a gift properly is as important as the offering of that gift.”

During the week, I’m fortunate to have telephone conversations with my mother, nothing earth shaking or of particular noteworthiness; but important none the less. Mom’s a “non-participating” Episcopalian, a very independent woman if ever there was one; all the same she respects my being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints as we agree to disagree on certain doctrinal issues.

This past week, our conversation naturally drifted toward being grateful for our many blessings. I mentioned that like Nephi in the opening line of the Book of Mormon, “I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents…;” it brought tears to her eyes and her voice failed momentarily as my words found a tender place in her heart. In that simple sentence I’d expressed gratitude for the many blessings I’d been shown.

Our family didn’t grow up with an abundance of material things, we weren’t poor; just didn’t have much “stuff.” I was reminded of a time when things were tight and my parents had “too much month at the end of the money.” We children were asked to collect our meager savings; pennies, nickels and dimes from our piggy banks in order to make it through to the next month. Mom choked out her recollection of this event, reminding us that we were eventually paid back every penny borrowed; something which has humbled her to this day as we understood the need to unite as a family.

We were taught the miracle of pea soup; how one batch could last nearly indefinitely. The first night we’d have a small bowl and the remainder was placed in the refrigerator. Over night the miracle happened; the concoction would congeal, so much that large quantities of water had to be added prior to reheating. There would be at least as much pea soup in the container as had been the first day; providing additional meals without the need for additional substance. The scriptures unfolded just as with the loaves and fishes and we were fed.

My folks were products of the Great Depression, something which our own children may have to endure since the lessons of frugality have not been passed from one generation to the next. Each year for Christmas we send my dad a small can of Green Giant Baby Le Sueur Peas, something his family couldn’t afford when he was a young boy. It serves as a reminder; how much value was placed on such a simple commodity at a time when a simple can of peas was considered a luxury. It’s an expression of gratitude for having weathered tough times even when we are no longer stretched to our limits.

Thomas Monson’s admonition to us all:

“My brothers and sisters, to express gratitude is gracious and honorable, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live with gratitude ever in our hearts is to touch heaven.

As I close this morning, it is my prayer that in addition to all else for which we are grateful, we may ever reflect our gratitude for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. His glorious gospel provides answers to life’s greatest questions: Where did we come from? Why are we here? Where do our spirits go when we die? That gospel brings to those who live in darkness the light of divine truth.

He taught us how to pray. He taught us how to live. He taught us how to die. His life is a legacy of love. The sick He healed; the downtrodden He lifted; the sinner He saved…

… Let us follow Him. Let us emulate His example. Let us obey His words. By so doing, we give to Him the divine gift of gratitude.

My sincere, heartfelt prayer is that we may in our individual lives reflect that marvelous virtue of gratitude. May it permeate our very souls, now and evermore. In the sacred name of Jesus Christ, our Savior, amen.”

This article has been cross-posted to The Moral Liberal, a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government & The American Constitution.”

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