This is the time of year when preachers spout platitudes. Many phrases about gratitude and thankfulness are superficial and trite, and are used too often. To some the platitudes of thanksgiving can seem downright cruel. It is cruel to tell someone they ought to be thankful when they are being abused physically, emotionally and sexually. It is cruel to tell someone they should be happy when their brain simply will not let them feel happiness or perceive reality without it being twisted.

I acknowledge up front that thankfulness is not easy or possible for some people in certain situations. For them, it is probably more helpful to cast what I want to say in terms of hope and faith.

I believe that life is good because the Giver of Life is good. That is a matter of faith for me. Frankly, there have been times when I have not felt goodness in my life. That is the case for all of us, some much more severely than others. Yet our faith keeps us from condemning all life, especially our own, because we believe that good can still be found in this life. A power greater than us will see to it.

When we are struggling and all we see around is darkness, we can still hope that a new and better day will dawn. Hope allows us to endure.

Even for those who rely on faith and hope, an increasing awareness of the connections we have to living beings creates the seeds of thankfulness. Thinking about the bonds of love and caring gives us reasons to be thankful. We are connected to all creation and can experience loving bonds to plants, animals or other human beings. No matter how tenuous the bond is, an awareness of goodness can open us up to other things around us that are good.

So find your flowering plant, your furry companion or human loved one. Through them see other ways in which your life is surrounded by evidence of love and goodness. Then life itself can generate thankfulness.