A Kernel of Gratitude – by Rev. Heather McCarrel


Photo by Priscilla Du Preez/Unsplash

Every year at Thanksgiving, whether there are only two around the table or twenty-two, each plate has 3 small kernels of un-popped colourful dried corn placed upon it. Before the meal is served we each take our place around the table and together share three things we are thankful for in the past year.  Then we place the kernels in a glass bowl which is placed in the middle of the table.  It is a thing of beauty to see the many different coloured kernels knowing each represents gratitude.

Tevye the Dairyman in the play Fiddler On the Roof sings a ‘tongue–in-cheek’ song about the importance of traditions and he concludes that without traditions life would be as shaky as a “fiddler on the roof.”  I tend to agree with Tevye; traditions help to steady us in an otherwise unstable world.

It is important to me that my children witness traditions that tether them to faithful living and teach them to find hope in a difficult world.  By demonstrating gratitude we are living what the Apostle Paul teaches, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (Thessalonians 5:16-18)

This year, as my family gathers for Thanksgiving we do so with three less family members; it has been a difficult year.  And yet, we will keep the Thanksgiving tradition of ‘Counting the Kernels of Gratitude’ because each small kernel reminds us of God’s presence, providence and promises.  As Henri Nouwen writes, “Gratitude goes beyond the ‘mine’ and ‘thine’ and claims the truth that all of life is a pure gift.”

May everyone take time this Thanksgiving to pause and count enough blessings until you too are confident that life is pure gift!

Rev. Heather McCarrel