On Thanksgiving & Finding Joy in Spite of Bad News

Thanksgiving week is upon us. Even though we are in the midst of a number of wars, it is always right and appropriate that we humans give thanks. 

A Polish girl holds a Horn of Plenty during the Amber Parade at the World Gdańsk Reunion in 2010. Photo by Starscream. Wikimedia Commons.

There is a reason why Meister Eckhart tells us, “If the only prayer you say in your whole life is ‘Thank You,’ that would suffice.” Just as there is a reason why Julian of Norwich tells us, “This is the holiest prayer—the loving prayer of thanksgiving.”

And why Thomas Berry reminds us that “in the end, the universe can only be explained in terms of celebration. It is all an exuberant expression of existence itself.”

No matter what humans are doing while busy expressing our hurt and outrage, our hatred and projections, our violence and bloodthirstiness, whether in Russia or Ukraine, Israel or Gaza, Africa or against Mother Earth — we are still capable of choosing non-violence over violence, and gratitude over destruction.

How U.S. troops are celebrating Thanksgiving while serving abroad. Video by the Today show.

As Thomas Berry puts it, “the feeling of presence to a sacred universe can appear once more to dynamize and sustain human affairs.” We are capable of seeing the world as an occasion for joy. A marvel, a miracle, a wonder that we are even here. 

That our 13.8-billion-year journey has brought us to a world that welcomed us with open arms and finely tuned oxygen and fruit trees and soil, waters and sunshine, and the company of other creatures beautiful and amazing and loving in their fashion.

Thanksgiving dinner at the house of Earle Landis, Pennsylvania 1942. Photo by Margery Collins. Wikimedia Commons.

There is plenty to give thanks for on this precious earth this Thanksgiving. And to reach down into the deep reservoir of our souls to find Joy. 

With that in mind, I am teaming up with Barbara LeVan Fisher, a designer, art curator and publisher, to produce a new version of my children’s book, In the Beginning There Was Joy. Hopefully, parents who read it to their kids will take in its deeper message.


Adapted from Matthew Fox, Meditations with Meister Eckhart: A Centering Book, p. 34;

And Fox, Julian of Norwich: Wisdom in a Time of Pandemic—and Beyond, p. 101;

And Fox, Christian Mystics: 365 Readings & Meditations, p. 365.

See also: Matthew Fox, In the Beginning There Was Joy.  
Receive a 20% discount when you buy this and one other book from Matthew Fox’s store!
Use Promo Code 20% at checkout.

To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE

Banner Image: A Cornucopia, or Horn of Plenty, for Thanksgiving. Photo by Brad Switzer on Unsplash.



Queries for Contemplation

How do Thanksgiving and Joy relate to each other in your understanding and experience of Life and the World and even in times of war?


Recommended Reading

Meditations with Meister Eckhart: A Centering Book

A centering book by Matthew Fox. This book of simple but rich meditations exemplifies the deep yet playful creation-centered spirituality of Meister Eckhart, Meister Eckhart was a 13th-century Dominican preacher who was a mystic, prophet, feminist, activist, defender of the poor, and advocate of creation-centered spirituality, who was condemned shortly after he died.
“These quiet presentations of spirituality are remarkable for their immediacy and clarity.” –Publishers Weekly.  

Julian of Norwich: Wisdom in a Time of Pandemic–and Beyond

Julian of Norwich lived through the dreadful bubonic plague that killed close to 50% of Europeans. Being an anchoress, she ‘sheltered in place’ and developed a deep wisdom that she shared in her book, Showings, which was the first book in English by a woman. A theologian way ahead of her time, Julian develops a feminist understanding of God as mother at the heart of nature’s goodness. Fox shares her teachings in this powerful and timely and inspiring book.
“What an utterly magnificent book. The work of Julian of Norwich, lovingly supported by the genius of Matthew Fox, is a roadmap into the heart of the eco-spiritual truth that all life breathes together.”  –Caroline Myss
Now also available as an audiobook HERE.

Christian Mystics: 365 Readings & Meditations

As Matthew Fox notes, when an aging Albert Einstein was asked if he had any regrets, he replied, “I wish I had read more of the mystics earlier in my life.” The 365 writings in Christian Mystics represent a wide-ranging sampling of these readings for modern-day seekers of all faiths — or no faith. The visionaries quoted range from Julian of Norwich to Martin Luther King, Jr., from Thomas Merton to Dorothee Soelle and Thomas Berry.
“Our world is in crisis, and we need road maps that can ground us in wisdom, inspire us to action, and help us gather our talents in service of compassion and justice.  This revolutionary book does just that.  Matthew Fox takes some of the most profound spiritual teachings of the West and translates them into practical daily mediations.  Study and practice these teachings.  Take what’s in this book and teach it to the youth because the new generation cannot afford to suffer the spirit and ethical illiteracy of the past.” — Adam Bucko, spiritual activist and co-founder of the Reciprocity Foundation for Homeless Youth.

In the Beginning There Was Joy: A Cosmic Celebration for Kids of All Ages

The first book in the Father Fox’s Fantastical Fables series tells the story of the big bang and how humans fit into the awesome, fantastical, cosmic picture! In this full-color, beautifully illustrated book, world- renowned theologian Matthew Fox weaves together modern science and classic spirituality in a whimsical, entertaining format to illustrate important truths to readers aged 4 and up. With artwork curated from illustrators around the world, this book expresses the joy and wonder of all peoples and cultures, planting seeds of respect, cooperation and hope to work together for the healing of our planet.
Receive a 20% discount when you buy this and one other book from Matthew Fox’s store! Use Promo Code 20% at checkout.


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3 thoughts on “On Thanksgiving & Finding Joy in Spite of Bad News”

  1. Avatar

    Congratulations Matthew on your new book about Thanksgiving & Joy for the inner child in All of us!
    We are indeed grateful for the LOVE~WISDOM~PEACE~JUSTICE~HEALING~TRANSFORMATION~CREATIVITY~BEAUTY~JOY~ COMPASSION… within and among All of Us, And with-in Sacred Mother Earth, Her living creatures & graceful abundance, And with-in All of Our Sacred multidimensional-multiverse COSMOS in LOVING DIVERSE ONENESS in the Sacred Creative Process of the ETERNAL PRESENT MOMENT….

  2. Avatar

    I agree with Meister Eckhart that the primary prayer is one of thanks., and from that comes joy. Thank you, Matthew, for your sweet story. I have always seen Proverbs 8:22-31 as a delightful, joyous tribute to Sophia/Wisdom as being right there co-creating with God and having fun doing it…..”rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the human race.” For me, the only way to keep going amidst the horrors of our time is to be grateful for nature, for the fact that I have all that I need, and for the holy people who always come forward to help, even in the most desperate situations.

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