Patti, Meister Eckhart, a 14th Century Dominican, theologian, philosopher and mystic says that, "If the only prayer you were to ever say in your life was 'Thank you,' it would be enough." Why, do you suppose, did he say this?
Well, Cindy, I guess, upon thinking about it, I'd say I suppose he said it because, along with being a Dominican, theologian, philosopher, and mystic, Meister Eckhart was probably also a student of human behavior and as such had likely observed that people generally feel gratitude only at times when they are the recipients of good things or feel happiness in their life. However Meister Eckhart might also have subscribed to the psychodynamic principal that behavior precedes feeling; and so he could have believed that practicing gratitude - by praying 'thank you" even when one wasn't feeling particularly happy or thankful about anything - would cause one to feel gratitude, which, when genuine, begets other virtues as well, such as humility and an awareness and appreciation of the good things in life, be they ever so simple, common and immaterial.
Also, an unadorned "thank you" as a "blanket prayer" works as an acknowledgement that every aspect of one's existence is a gift from God, which is by extension worship, or the acknowledgment of God's omnipotence. I expect that Meister Eckhart, being a believer, would have considered this acknowledgement to be a human obligation of great importance.
On the other hand, there seems to be a pervasive attitude among many us that the good things - be they material or immaterial - we are fortunate enough to possess are a sign of God's favor upon us personally. It's fashionable for people not to pray their "thank you" prayers only in private silence but to let others know that they are grateful for being among the chosen recipients of God's blessing. Thus one often hears people with a cushy existence making declarations about being "blessed".
The problem is, then, that going around telling others that we've been blessed by God because of our good fortune and in fact believing it to be true, the purpose of our "thank you" prayer becomes not our acknowledgement of God but God's acknowledgement of us. After all, if God favors me with good fortune then God obviously approves of me, and if God approves of me then whatever I'm doing and thinking is obviously right and therefore cannot be argued against because if God is for me then who can be against me, and if you're against me it means you're against God. Right?
That line of thinking, which you might recognized from the campaign speeches of some of our political candidates, is rooted in the belief - subconscious in some, conscious in others - that one is in fact superior and more deserving than others who are less "blessed" than oneself.
Which brings me back to my original quandry: how does one reconcile giving thanks for being a "have" in a world full of "have-nots"?
What would Meister Eckhart say?