When Seth Mooney was born a healthy beautiful boy his parents thanked the doctors and nurses who performed the delivery, the attendant who pushed Mom’s wheelchair to the waiting car, and almost every neighbor who stopped by the next week to give their congratulations. They thanked the Pharmacist, their grocer, the nice lady at Target who sold them diapers, wipes, lotion and a dozen other necessities for young Seth. They even thanked the mailman who delivered the letter and packages from family and friends across the country. But they didn’t thank God for the most amazing miracle ever to happen to their young family. The Mooney’s are not unbelievers; they’ve been to church. No the Mooney’s are part of the growing minority of people who thank their friends for a miracle from God.
“Here it is,” Johnny would scream from the front of the column, “I found the bread crumb!” Of course, ants don’t really scream because they don’t even talk, but if any could, Johnny would be the first. Each morning Johnny would set out from the colony in search of nourishment, because there were 40,000 ants to feed and it was Johnny’s job, along with 39,998 other ants, to find the food for the day. Johnny took his responsibility to his family and friends seriously.
The title of this story was the classic response from Jesus, when after healing the ten lepers, only one came back to say, thank you. “Weren’t there ten of you?” He asked. Of course He knew how many there were; he had just healed them. He wanted the one person who returned with a grateful heart, and us, to know that He was questioning the whereabouts of the other nine. In effect, Jesus was asking, “Were the others happy to be healed of this terrible disease as well? Why didn’t they come back and say so?” Undoubtedly, the other nine men were very happy and excited to be healed; most likely, that was the problem. They were so excited that they forgot who to thank for their gift. They ran off to their homes and villages to show off the miracle, to stand before the crowds and reveal how fortunate their circumstances had changed. The gift became the focus of all, the center of attention; and the giver, the most important person in this moment, was cast in a supporting role. The nine were confused and mistaken. It was not the gift that was important, but the giver of the gift who was the real story. In their haste, (and happiness) they forgot about gratitude.
As Thanksgiving approaches there will be numerous articles written, radio programs broadcasted, and television shows aired bringing to our attention the need to be thankful. Setting aside one day a year to remember, and acknowledge all the reasons we have to be thankful is a very good tradition. I encourage everyone to embrace this holiday; to be with friends and family and carefully consider how lucky we are to be American’s, living where we do, having food in the pantry and people who love us. Only, my goal this season was not to write about Thanksgiving simply because everyone else is, yet here I am mentioning Thanksgiving three times in the first paragraph. So, I’ve decided instead to focus my writing on You’re Welcome; it’s what happens after thanks.
Saying “You’re welcome” is the finale of a three part process initiated by an action; not just any action though. For instance, stepping on someone’s foot while dancing doesn’t usually lead to you’re welcome, nor would denting a car door in the grocery store parking lot. To arrive at the desired good outcome, the first step is to do something that brings joy, happiness, relief, comfort or love to another person, whether you know that person or not. An action is needed to start the process. Being thankful unto itself normally is a passive experience, and living in the level of good fortune that we do, begs for more than a passive gratitude.