After a stunningly good BBC production of ‘War and Peace’, I am revisiting the book (yes, really!) The edition I have was given to me as a teenager in 1976; at the time, another great BBC production – ‘Anna Karenina’ – had drawn me to Tolstoy’s work and his brilliance at exploring human relationships. I do not recall why, but leafing through the now yellowed pages, I discovered that, all those years ago, I had underlined the following:
‘Even in the best, most friendly and simple relations of life, praise and commendation are as indispensable as the oil which greases the wheels of a machine to keep them running smoothly’
Praising God is an essential part of our worship and of our relationship with our Creator. We say ‘It is right to give thanks and praise’, but how often do we think about the value of thanking and praising other people? Whether it is a parishioner making the tea or welcoming us with a smile as we walk in to Church, Church Wardens and PCC members, the pastoral ministry of those taking time to go to schools, nursing homes and workplaces, members of local ministry teams who give their time freely in service; the coffee shop barista, the bus driver, those who work in the background – and many more examples we can think of – we all need to hear from time to time, words of encouragement and acknowledgement.
These words are not just platitudes – they are an essential part of our personal spiritual growth as, when they come, it is uncannily just at the right moment to inspire us and keep us moving forward, reassuring us that we are valued. But also, these words can turn war into peace, by diffusing resentment among individuals and transforming it into mutual love and respect.
When we go on holiday, ‘thank you’ is often one of only a few words out of the phrasebook we need for our journey that we learn and which sticks with us. If the peoples of the Earth were to learn God’s universal language for ‘thank you’, how much closer the Kingdom would be?
Thank You/ Diolch/ Tapadh leat/ Go raibh maith agat/ Merci/ Gracias/ Grazie/ Danke/ Obrigada/ Efharisto/ Eziekuje/ Spasibo/ Mersi/ Tesekkür ederim/ Shukran/ Dêkuji/ Tak / Takk/ Tack/ Tiitos/ Toda/ Arigato/ Do jeh/ Xie xie/ Sukria/ Ābhāra/ Terima kasih/ Tamsa hamnida/ Salamat po/ Istutiy/ Dankie/Asante