It was Thanksgiving and everyone around me had happy plans to get together with family and friends. I had no plans. My children had left to spend Thanksgiving with their father several hundred miles away. I had estranged myself from my church, my friends and my family. It was pretty depressing.
On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving as I commuted to my teaching job, I felt quite sorry for myself. But during the hour and a half commute into New York City, I earnestly prayed to be lifted from this depression. I knew that my outlook was self-centered and unhelpful. Later I realized that this prayer improved my thinking and let me appreciate the solution when it was presented to me.
I taught business management in a culinary arts college in lower Manhattan. My students came from a variety of cultures, backgrounds, educations and ages. I dearly loved teaching them. As the day wore on, I knew that God and love was supplying all good at that moment and this had to include me. The depression lifted; it was replaced with a sense of loving kindness toward everyone around me. God, my Father, was caring for each one of his children. I could express appreciation for this great love by extending it to those around me and by being grateful. I ended up having a happy day.
When school was over for the day, I walked out with one of my older students. She is Chinese and lived nearby in Chinatown. In the course of the conversation, it came out that I would be alone for Thanksgiving. She immediately invited me to her uncle’s restaurant, which was close by. It was early for dinner, but she had him prepare a wonderful, authentic meal. We had a marvelous sharing time, talking about family and traditions. I even got to take some Chinese food home.
Going home, I realized that this was my Thanksgiving meal. This was part of a continuing expression of family. Psalm 43 asked and answered my questions for that day: “Why are thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted within me? Hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.”
Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer and founder of Christian Science, puts it this way in “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures:” “Are we really grateful for the good already received? Then we shall avail ourselves of the blessings we have, and thus be fitted to receive more. Gratitude is much more than a verbal expression of thanks. Action expresses more gratitude than speech.”
I needed to learn better to be grateful for all the good received and to put that gratitude into action.
The rest of the holiday was spent in quiet prayer and doing small things for others. And, in a little while, I did reconnect with church, family and friends. This act of kindness and generosity from my student and my willingness to be more grateful had broken though the depression and had shown me tangibly that we can see God’s great love for us as we are grateful to him.
Celia Nygard is a member of the First Church of Christ, Scientist in State College