Having recently returned from a trip to Europe, I can honestly say I am thankful every time I return to our city. Dallas is not just where my house is; it’s where my home is. 

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What makes a house a home? And what makes a city home? Heart, in both cases.

In the heart of Dallas is a special enclave called Thanks-Giving Square that symbolizes the heart of the city. It’s situated adjacent to civic, commercial and arts districts giving a spiritual pulse to our streets. It seems extraordinary that a municipality defined over time more by business interests than anything else should have something like a soul in the middle of Downtown to remind us that transcendence is not transactional.

Designed by renowned architect Philip Johnson more than 40 years ago under the watchful eye of visionary founder Peter Stewart, this unique urban setting inspires wonder and provides respite amid the noisy pursuits around it. The interfaith chapel features a stained-glass spire, the grounds feature water features and shade, and the walls sport murals and scriptures that celebrate gratitude as a spirit that unites people of all faiths and none.

Thanks-Giving Foundation sponsors interfaith dialogues, hosts Faith Forward Dallas (an interfaith coalition of faith leaders promoting justice and compassion), and builds bridges between government, police, business, education, law, medicine, religion and nonprofits. It’s a place of grace, and grace is the gift that gives rise to gratitude. When tragedies strike our city, like the police shootings in the summer of 2016, people from all walks of life gather in its welcoming spiritual space to mourn and pray.

Kyle Ogden, the president of Thanks-Giving Foundation, reflected last month about the Toyota commercials that ran during the Summer Olympics with the phrase: You don’t have to be amazing to get started, but you do have to get started to be amazing. Noting the vibrant engagement of Dallas people in the volunteer sector, he applied the sports analogy to service. The people who make the greatest difference for the welfare of the world aren’t the greatest people to begin with; they are just people.

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King said: “Everybody can be great … because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”

In truth, the soul can’t be generated by anything but love. If we were to try to feed our soul with anything else, it would wither.

In my three decades in Dallas, I have seen expansion in the social conscience and the moral consciousness of our city. I have witnessed growing respect and collegiality among faith leaders of various religions as they pursue the common good together. Thanks-Giving Square — the people and the place — in the heart of our city keeps the heart of our city healthy.

Like being amazing, you only have to get started to be thankful.