Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Cross in Green Bay, WI

Giving thanks to God

Giving thanks to God
Through our trials and for our dreams, we are deeply loved by God

As the days of autumn wind down, we prepare to celebrate the wonderful holiday of Thanksgiving. Each year, as that special day approaches, I find myself faced with a dilemma. I have so many, many things to be grateful for, that I don’t know where to begin thanking God. Last year, however, I had an awesome experience that overwhelmed me with a powerful feeling of joy.

winter full moon It was November and I had arrived at the Jesuit Retreat House at Oshkosh to preach a women’s weekend retreat.  Dinner was scheduled a little late on that Thursday evening, to allow for the retreatants to get there after completing a day’s work. I had time to myself, so I decided to walk outside for a bit. It was very dark by then, but the moon shining above the bare trees provided me with enough light to see my way. The waves were gently lapping on the shore of the lake. Other than that, it was perfectly quiet. I began speaking to God, expressing my excitement about giving the retreat, and the wonder that I could do it in the first place. I then recalled a time in my life when I was coping with some serious issues and felt that I was just surviving in my ministry. I recognized that even in that period of darkness, I still carried a dream. As I walked down the path through the wooded area, I reflected on how that dream was coming true. Finally, I said to God, “Who would have thought?” Following a few more moments of silence, I heard God say, “I did.” And from the depths of my heart I whispered, “Thank you.”

There are times in our lives when we feel bent over, and can only focus on the pebbles on the path. Then there are those moments when we see the whole road spread before our eyes, with all of its twists and turns, ups and down, and its windings through the clearings and the rough terrain, and we realize that through all of the journey we have been deeply loved and God did not give up on the dream. In that profound awareness, we bow in humble gratitude.


11/28/2019 2:50 am

This brought tears to my eyes. I too have heard God in the quiet of the night.

12/01/2019 9:16 am

I was at the retreat. It was wonderful. It was my first silent retreat. The silence facilitates the switch from the pebbles on the path to the whole road and especially God’s dream for us. One takeaway for me was your practice of reading a psalm a day. I had been struggling with reading the psalms. I thought maybe the psalms just didn’t speak to me. Now I hear God’s voice in one psalm a day. Much better! Thank you and God for this. I am so grateful. Laura

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