Days of Grace: Meditations and Practices for Living with Illness by Mary C. Earle. 


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Day Seventeen

We Give You Thanks

Written By Mary C. Earle

Practice Note

Meditation: <listen>

We give you thanks, O God, we give you thanks,
Calling upon your Name and declaring all your wonderful deeds
—Psalm  75:1

My dad suffered a heart attack several years ago. After having angioplasty and recovering from having his heart shocked back into rhythm, he began reflecting on the “miracle” (as he called it) that he was still alive. One day I found him at his desk, doing some math. “What are you computing?” I asked. “I am figuring out how many times my heart has beat in my lifetime, more or less. I have never thanked God for that. I’ve just taken it for granted. In fact, I’ve never thanked God for everything that still works, and I am in my 80s!”

Dad taught me a good lesson that day. He had taken the time to give thanks, not only for coming through a very frightening episode, but also for all that had worked within his own body for so many years.

It is so easy for us to focus on what is wrong when we live with an illness or a condition. It is so easy for us to fail to give thanks for the organs and systems that do the work they have been given to do. And it is so easy for us to forget to support our own health by grateful practices that offer our bodies adequate rest, nutrition, exercise and care.This day, take the time to give thanks for all that works within your own body. Be specific: “Thank you for the blood that courses through these veins, taking needed nutrients to all my cells.”  “Thank you for these bones that hold up my flesh.”

And in the days ahead, add to the thanksgivings, perhaps even writing them down each day.

I give You thanks, most gracious God, for the gift of this embodied life, and for all of these organs, systems and bones that continue to function, even with illness. Help me to honor the gift of this body which You have brought into being. Amen.

Practice: <listen>

Give thanks today for what is working within your body. Give thanks for the  mysterious perseverance of organs and circulatory systems in the face of bodily di sruption. Give thanks not only with prayer, but also by asking yourself what you might do to embody the thanksgiving. That could look like stretching or  eating what your body needs or being faithful about a regimen of medicine. Be creative in embodying the thanksgiving, and be concrete and specific.

Reference Note: All  psalms are taken from the psalter in The Book of Common Prayer, 1979.