Christmas Advent HERO

In everything, grateful

We’re now days away from the first Thanksgiving break at Valpo since 2019. The break promises a welcome relief even as it brings its own urgency. Perhaps you’re feeling the stress of these final days as you seek to wrap up a project or get things in order before leaving campus for a few days. Sometimes it can feel almost like we’re holding our breath.

“I just need to get out of here!” a student said to me just yesterday. 

Not that we didn’t have a break at Thanksgiving time last year, but it wasn’t the same breather before finals that it usually is. Those of us who were around last year will recall that we started the semester earlier in the fall and pushed through without a break until the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Everyone was exhausted from too many hours on Zoom and not enough real human interaction. And when we did get a break, many of us couldn’t go anywhere but home. Lots of us limited our travel, especially to visit older relatives who were, as yet, unvaccinated.

But this year is different. This year, we’re getting the week of Thanksgiving off and many of us have social plans beyond cocooning in our own homes and waving at family through video screens. Some things are returning to our preferred normal and, for that, we give thanks.

We know that thanksgiving is good. Not just the break, but the attitude. Those who study wellness tell us that cultivating an attitude of thankfulness and gratitude actually contributes to our own sense of wellbeing. It seems that counting one’s blessings actually increases the count of one’s blessings!

This shouldn’t, however, be taken as a signal to ignore the bad stuff. We might try to; after all, some situations in the world and in our own lives can be awful. And it might feel better in the short run to pretend that these situations are not as they are and that cultivating gratefulness requires us to not attend to the negative. In fact, the opposite is true.

Gratefulness, taking note of our blessings, however small, can give us the capacity to acknowledge our struggles and sadness with greater resolve. Everything is not all good, but some things are and the struggles and heartbreaks we endure need not be all that defines us and our lives. Even in the midst of the struggle, there are gifts to be realized.

We need not be grateful for everything that comes our way but, in everything, there is opportunity for gratefulness.

Pr. Jim

Nov. 17, 2021

Pastor Jim and Pastor Kate take turns writing weekly devotions for the Chapel of the Resurrection. Contact them here: