Do you know the difference between a transitive and an intransitive verb?
A transitive verb requires an object because an action is done to/towards something else. The action moves from one thing to another. Let me give examples. Can you write without writing something? Can you promise without promising something? Can you drink without drinking something? No, because each of these verbs are transitive… meaning something moves from one thing to another. Can you smile without an object? Of course. Can you sleep without an object? Yuppers. So let’s test you: which of the following are transitive: 1) Eat, 2) Throw, 3) Find, 4) Take, 5) Run, 6) Skate. Which of those are transitive? The first 4. The last two do not need objects.
Are you with me so far?
If so, then let’s figure out if gratitude is transitive. Can you have gratitude towards nothing, or does it require an object? You can give thanks to the sky for rain, but can you give thanks to nothing? I suppose it is possible to drive around a parking lot in a big hurry and find an open spot by the door, and simply say that you are grateful to find the spot… but logically speaking aren’t you really being thankful to something/someone even though you are leaving off the object? My guess is you are.
So, here comes the rub. Can you celebrate Thanksgiving without an object? When people sit around a table and go around one by one saying something that they are grateful for, I get that there is someTHING that they are thankful for… but is there someONE to whom they are thankful?
It is amazing to read the news and watch TV and hear people talking about giving thanks and talking about it in a positive way (which, don’t get me wrong, I do believe that have a heart full of gratitude is a far far better thing than having a spirit of entitlement), but there is ofttimes utter silence as to the object of the thanks.
My guess is that those who do not believe in a gracious and powerful deity might feel a tad uncomfortable giving thanks to an empty sky or vacant universe, but they still manage to give thanks…but it must be just a tad bit awkward…
I encourage all of you to develop thankful spirits and then to regularly actually thank those in your lives who have been kind and gracious to you. Try to do it once a day…. every day…for a month and my guess is it will change your heart.
Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!