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Sowing the seeds of 'thank you'

by CAROL SHIRK KNAPP / Contributing Writer
| September 20, 2023 1:00 AM

Eight letters — double the power of those often angry four letter words thrown out in haste. This one can live solo or in a crowd. It's hardy — able to flourish in marginal, even severe, conditions. Yet sometimes left to wither in the most extravagant environments.

Like the “shot heard round the world” this is the “word heard round the world.” Thank you. Gracias. Merci. Arigato. Spasiba. Takk. Toda. Mahalo. Danke sehr. Perhaps the most fluent expression there is.

What if this global word “thank you” were a seed looking for a place to land. Blowing on the four winds. Would it find me?

Years ago a story on offering thanks — found in the Bible — made a huge impression on me. Jesus is on His way to Jerusalem passing near the border of Samaria — a region in central Israel. In that day there was great animosity between Samaritans and Jews. They had nothing to do with each other.

When He enters a small village a group of 10 lepers shouts at Him from a ways off. They are socially distanced — utter outcasts disfigured by an infectious bacterium spread through coughing or sneezing.

They cry, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” Jesus' reputation for healing has by now spread through the land.

Jesus looks over at them and says merely, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” According to Jewish custom it was the priests who could confirm a “clean bill of health”--and allow the leper's reentry to the community.

Not until they have started in the direction of the temple does healing come. This must have been an incredible moment for them. They not only are no longer sick, but can rejoin their friends and families. Their lifetime quarantine has ended.

Of the ten racing for the temple only one turns back. He glorifies God with a “loud voice,” falls “on his face” at Jesus' feet, and “gives thanks to Him.” It turns out this man is a Samaritan. Jesus notes this — that it is the “foreigner” in the group who returns with a thank you.

He says, “Were not ten cleansed? But the nine — where are they? Was no one found who returned to give glory to God....?”

The power in this single question, “But the nine — where are they?”, sealed this story in my heart and mind and set me on a path of practicing thanks every day. I don't want to be in that band of nine. The ones who forget to say thank you.

So I try in each day to search out things for which to give thanks. There is so much — even in despairing times. And while it's fantastic to feel thankful, for me it's essential to know Whom to thank. The source for the gifts.

I want that “thank you” seed to always, always find me.