As we enter Thanksgiving week, we prepare to sit around a festive table with family and friends, delicious food and drinks, and enjoy each other’s company. If you’re like my family, at some point during the meal we take turns sharing what we’re most thankful for. It’s a beautiful practice to kick off our holiday season – to ground ourselves in the most important things in our lives and ignite the spirit of gratitude in our hearts.
But I recently came across something that’s going to enhance my family’s tradition this year. It has inspired me to take my family’s main course of gratitude and add a sprinkle of courage.
This might sound odd, since courage typically makes us think outwardly. To run bravely into opposing fire. To do something under besieging circumstances. To be celebrated, and rewarded with medals. And what does that have to do with gratitude?
It wasn’t until I read Courage by David Whyte that it all crystalized for me. Because as he tells us, courage isn’t at all what we think it is.
“Courage actually comes from the old Norman French word “coeur”, which means heart.
Courage is the measure of our heartfelt participation with life, with another, with a community, a work, a future.
To be courageous is not necessarily to go anywhere or do anything except to make conscious those things we already feel deeply and then to live through the unending vulnerabilities of those consequences.
To be courageous is to seat our feelings deeply in the body and in the world: to live up to and into the necessities of relationships that often already exist, with things we find we already care deeply about: with a person, a future, a possibility in society, or with an unknown that begs us on and always has begged us on.
To be courageous is to stay close to the way we are made.”
So this holiday season, I encourage you to bring courage to your family table. But not courage as we formerly knew it – new courage. Heart-led courage. Courage that allows you to look around your table and appreciate the blessings you already have.
Because through this lens, as Mr. Whyte says,
“On the inside we come to know who and what and how we love and what we can do to deepen that love; only from the outside and only by looking back, does it look like courage.”
I wish you and yours a most courageous (and thankful) Thanksgiving this year!