​Grateful for my Dictionary

Do you know the meaning of the words you use?  I often travel with the speed of light to the nearest dictionary simply to clarify my understanding of a term.  Often I glean an additional insight into the depth of meaning imbued within a word.  An expression can have abstract connotations far beyond my long-held literal conceptualizations.  On occasion, I am surprised to find a word defined by Webster to be at variance with my own.

Today, I have been pondering the relationship between two words used a lot 'round about this time of year:  thankful and grateful. So, faster than a speeding bullet, there I am in the midst of my favorite 'novel without a plot', comparing with fascination these two resplendent delineations.

Guess what? The definition of the word grateful is "thankful" and the word thankful is defined as "grateful"!

Such a marvelous instrument of ingenious collaboration!

Fortunately, I read on.  I discovered that these two synonyms both convey "an appreciation of benefits received". The difference lies however in the source from which the benefits are derived.

Grateful is to be applied when delighted with something received from another person. Example: I am grateful to my friend for her thoughtful comments.

Thankful would be appropriately used to express appreciation for a blessing received from God.  Example:  I am thankful for the timely rain God provided for my garden.

Definitely, I am most thankful and so very grateful for the good that comes my way -- from God and man. I am especially grateful to Daniel Webster for his unquenchable thirst for knowledge and his unrelenting penmanship that culminated in the writing and publishing of my dictionary.  And, of course, I am quite thankful to the Infinite Presence who watches over every one of us, especially my friend, Daniel.

But I am distraught over the confusion that now lies before me. I mean, what if I should forget? It would be so easy for me to express my gratitude to God and give thanks to my friend. No doubt, my friend would think me to be an uneducated imbecile -- a total vacuum. I suppose God would forgive me for such a minor infraction of the law.  But yet, how terribly embarrassing!

Oh well. Maybe the important thing is to keep in touch with those most sincere feelings of appreciation and awe that live within my heart. I thank God for showering upon me His infinite goodness and kindness and understanding. And I am grateful to you for lending an ear to my inexhaustible gyrations.

Have a Happy Grates-Giving Day!

Authored by Reverend Virgil Brewer at Unity Chapel
October 1, 2001

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