Season of Gratitude

By Alice Knowles, DignityUSA Vice-President

In November, what comes to mind is Thanksgiving, Veterans Day, preparing for winter, longer dark days, bare trees, Advent. It is the time of the year that we are enveloped in gratitude. Thanksgiving is the holiday of the season. I know many people who consider Thanksgiving season the best season of the year. They prefer it because it is the season of gratitude.

I am certain there are many things that you are grateful for. This month, members of the DignityUSA community, we are grateful for the Equally Blessed pilgrims who attended and participated in the World Meeting of Families. At first, it seemed like a great opportunity to speak the truth of LGBTQI families in the church. It was going to be a chance to share our stories, our struggles, our joys, and our love as solid Catholic families. The organizers of the event had a different agenda; their focus was not on our gifts but their conservative attitudes toward the LGBTQI community.  We are grateful for the courage and tenacity of the pilgrims who garnered support from their community of supporters.

The month of November is the month of remembering those who have passed. DignityUSA members are mourning the death of a courageous leader, John McNeill, who believed in the spiritual life of LGBTI Catholics. He dreamt of a church that was accepting, and he was a cornerstone of the DignityUSA community. We are who we are today because of his courage, his insight, and his persistence. We are most grateful for John McNeill.

Paul Coutinho says the following about gratitude: “We become aware of the many gifts of God with gratitude and gratitude is the memory of the heart. Gratitude is the process where we allow the gifts we have received to touch our hearts and transform our lives.” (An Ignation Pathway: Experiencing the mystical dimension of the Spiritual Exercises) This explains the power of gratitude and how we are all so capable of gratitude. We are open to the gifts we have received. It’s about acknowledging all the things that are right about us, our love, and our lives! It’s about recognizing that our hearts are full with gratitude.  

Thanksgiving is the holiday when you share a meal with those you love. It’s steeped in tradition: mashed potatoes, green bean salads, turkey, cranberry sauce, and lots of food and more food and even more love. It’s sharing a meal. It’s being a community around a table. It’s finding a place for everyone at      the table.

Let your hearts be full this Thanks-giving season!