Sunday I preached my annual Thanksgiving style sermon, which is some kind of “do-it-yourself-reflective-piece.” In the past we’ve written songs, poems, and stories together to show our gratitude. This year we took a journey with a Thanksgiving Adventure Map I built. There are ten stops along the way.
1. Gateway of Goings–This is where we start our journey, which leads us to be thankful for our life and for being born. It is also a time to spiritually reflect on how being “born again” changes the way we view thankfulness.
2. Mirror Lake–In order to truly practice gratitude, one must be ‘reflective’ by crossing the bridge of Mirror Lake.
3. Monument of Togetherness–These are the people we love and care about. It helps to list people who make life better and for whom we are thankful. It might be a good idea to tell them why you are specifically thankful for them.
4. Peaks of Joy–These are the “epochs” of time that we are glad we had. It might be a vacation; a semester of college, or a meaningful experience.
5. Respite Rest Area–The rest area is on the way down off the peaks; and is closely related to the Peaks of Joy in that it is a time, but unlike an “epoch” the Respite Rest Area is just a day–One day you are thankful for. I have several of those but the one that I talked about Sunday was that one day Kim and I had in Rome together.
6. Desert of Bitterness–The unfortunate exit many people take is that they exit off on life’s journey and end up stuck in the sand dunes of the Desert of Bitterness. Everyone comes close to it, as the highway parallels it for some time, but it is important that we do not get stuck there. If we do; thankfulness may never be found again.
7. Prairie of Broken Dreams–The Prairie of Broken Dreams often derails us and forces us to exit off into the Desert of Bitterness. We always see the desert before we realize the dreams are broken. In order to move beyond those broken dreams we must be willing to kill them and move on down the pathway of life.
8. River of Hope–Hope is the best elixir to broken dreams and we leave this desolate and dangerous region on life’s journey by crossing the River of Hope. Thankfulness is often talked about as being about the past–what has happened. Yet I have found that a thankful person will also be thankful about hopes for the future.
9. Forest of Little Things–No gratitude journey would be complete without thinking about some of the little things in life that make life better. The smell of burning leaves, brewing coffee, frying bacon, Red Vines candy, or electricity–the world is full of seemingly small things that we should be thankful for because it makes living so much better.
10. Gateway of Goings–We finish where we began–the Gateway of Goings. Here is where we learn to be thankful that someday our toils will end and we will die; and every exit is also an entrance. As people of faith our journey does not end, it continues in the realm of eternity and the assurance of heaven–which is definitely something to be thankful for. We also think about how, when our life ends; will we have lived in such a way that people will be thankful for having known us and been impacted by us?