not without pain

A Lutheran pastor, JoAnn Post, shares this story in the Christian Century,  about her 5 year old niece:

She refused to offer a memorized table grace. She insisted that she be allowed to pray extemporaneously for that specific meal. With hands folded, head bowed, and one eye scanning the table, she prayed: “Thank you, God, that Mom mashed potatoes and made gravy. Thank you, God that there are enough rolls for me to have two. I don't thank you, God, for the beans. Amen.”


We are in the time of gratitude, when we are reminded in many ways to be thankful for abundance. Yes, some things naturally lead us to gratitude. But there are always the beans - parts of our lives, and of our world, for which we are not grateful. Hard things, unlikeable things, painful things. These are the things that get in the way of our gratitude. They are things we have to peer around, to push past, to get to what brings us gratefulness.


Gratitude is not without pain. If all is happy, we haven't looked very far into ourselves. But life is not all mashed potatoes. We live in a world of beans as well.