Editor’s note: As a bestselling author and frequent Meridian contributor, Richard Eyre’s prose is well known to most Meridian readers, but he is less well-known as a poet. We have asked him to share a poem each Monday morning for the remainder of this year as a form of weekly contemplation, along with a preface paragraph about its context and about what motivated him to write it. To read the earlier poems in this series click here, here, and here.

Poet’s context: For fifty years our holiday greeting has been a Thanksgiving Card rather than a Christmas Card because gratitude can be continuously discovered and sets the stage for Christmas. And Thanks-giving is not the path to happiness; it is happiness in its most obtainable form. But as this poem suggests, we need to manage our gratitude lest it turn against us.

(And the Gratitude Fork)

we all understand
on some level
the importance and joy of gratitude
we love the holiday of Thanksgiving
and the longer journey of thanks-giving

danger lurks
there is a fork in this seemingly pleasant path
two different ways that it can lead

one fork spirals up toward pride
through credit-taking and self-congratulating
thanks that I have more than you
that I know more see more do more
than you
it’s a path that gradually becomes
wider flatter uglier
as the world gets smaller and darker
the other fork drops down toward meekness
humble acknowledgment
that nothing is deserved or earned
that our debt is always growing never paid
a narrow winding path this…
small beneath the ever larger
more magical world
that towers around us with
wonders around every corner
where we in our nothingness
become transparent aware appreciators
and servers
windows to His love

the first fork which initially
seemed to ascend upward
now descends ever steeper ever deeper
into the dungeon of self.

the second path
which initially fell away
lowly and humble but filled with awe
now circles around and up
revealing mysteries and questions
like how are we so different than He
yet so much the same
each gift bows our head lower
even as it lifts our hearts and our sights

have you found the thanks-giving path?
have you come to the gratitude fork?