The Season of Gratitude

By Hope Johnson

“Everyone wants to feel appreciated. For many, appreciation is just saying thank you. But appreciation only begins with saying thanks. True appreciation is not only recognizing someone’s excellent efforts and contribution. The term actually means “to recognize and enjoy” a person’s value or good qualities. It means showing respect and understanding as well as gratitude. “

from Nine Ways to Show Appreciation by Kevin Daum

As we enter into the season of gratitude, this “savoring” time that leads to the Harvest, I find myself thinking of the nuanced differences between appreciation and gratitude. Although I, like so many of you, want to do “the work,” I know that it is not always easy to savor this life that I have, the life that we each have, as well as these lives that we share.

At the recent “New Day Rising” Conference, I had the joy of meeting many Unitarian Universalists from the Central East Region. Representatives from several congregations and organizations shared the efforts that there were making as they grappled with the white supremacist culture that abounds. We were challenged to put ourselves in the middle of the messiness of life, of service, of love…. It was an opportunity to learn from each other by sharing our stories—not only the joys, but more importantly, the challenges. We recognized that no one is alone. Inspired to re-group, to re-frame, to make new connections, and inter-connections, we imagined some new ways to work together.

We gave and received appreciation for our best efforts. We acknowledged the blessings that abound in the midst of the challenges.

Though we on your regional team don’t have all of the answers, know that we are your partners. We are all better together. I believe that when we invite gratitude and appreciation to become a part of our daily practice, Love will follow. It always does.

May unexpected blessings abound at this Harvest season, and beyond....

Rev. Dr. Hope Johnson

About the Author

Hope Johnson

Hope Johnson was a beloved elder in Unitarian Universalism. She served as the Congregational Life Consultant for the UUA's Central East Region and the Southern Region. She brought specialties in conflict resolution and multicultural congregational development.

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candle surrouned by Grateful for being and other words of gratitude
Hope Johnson

Rev. Dr. Hope Johnson, CER Congregational Life Staff