When we began our cruise of the Greek Islands last year one of the first words our guide taught us to say was efharistó, or thankyou. “Greeks love it when you say efharistó,” the guide said. The response we were told would always be parakaló, you’re welcome. Sure enough I found many opportunities to say efharistó to tour guides, waitpersons, bus drivers, shopkeepers and others and I was delighted that whenever I said efharistó, the response would always be parakaló.
I found something refreshing about using a word that was understood in a country far from home, and to have it acknowledged straight away. But perhaps even more important than that was the fact that the word I used the most was a word that focussed on the person to whom it was being addressed, not on myself.
Soon after being introduced to the word efharistó I drew on my basic knowledge of Biblical Greek and noticed straight away that embedded in the word efharistó, was the word charis, which means grace. This gave me a fresh appreciation of the way in which “thankyou” recognised an act of grace and at the same time was a symbol of grace.
In a society where entitlement has replaced thanksgiving the idea that thanks is an act of grace is quite important. When we go to a restaurant we pay our money and if the food or the service is not up to our standard we are more likely to express our lack of appreciation than to say thankyou. We have paid for something and are therefore entitled to a certain standard. Entitlement shows itself in many forms and sadly thanksgiving has been overtaken in many common situations.
May 30 is National Thanksgiving Day in Australia and it’s a great time to pause and reflect on the importance of saying thankyou to God and to the people who live around us. Even if we think that people don’t deserve it, saying thankyou is a powerful act of grace and we need to say it more.
Efharistó. Thankyou for reading this blog and for giving thought to these simple words.