Tuesday, November 25, 2014

It's All About Gratitude

This is a busy week in many American homes.  Whether poor or rich, most Americans take this week to prepare for that special secular, but secretly spiritual, holiday we call Thanksgiving Day.  Kids are off from school, turkeys are murdered by the million, cranberries become delicious, sugar or some substitute is added to a multitude of dishes that become immediately addictive, and many families gather, whether everyone is talking with one another or not, just because it's what we do.  Many do, anyway.  Others gather with groups of friends who are more family than blood relations could ever be.  Some gather with neighbors, or with strangers in Churches or soup kitchens.  The gathering together seems to be what is most relished, even more than that wonderful pumpkin pie with which that particularly good baker in each family may grace the table!
Some gather only in their memories, with loved ones who have passed on, with the joys of bygone holidays, and are either lonely or content as they process their grief in life.  Others gather with nobody, alone in their illness, lonliness, grief, or sometimes bitterness, sometimes by happenstance, sometimes by choice.  Then there are those whose choices come back on days like this to bite them in the ass.  Choices which land them in prison...  or isolated by bitterness, nastiness, or narcissism,

Whatever the way the day is commemorated there is much to consider if we allow the purpose of the day to affect us, challenge us, and even comfort us.  On the sunny days of life we can all come up with answers to what blesses our lives.  We can think of the friends, homes, vacations, toys and goodies for all ages...  On the gloomy days of life we might muster a miserable thank you for at least being alive.  That might be a challenge for some, and I realize that.  Thanksgiving Day is our human way of saying that regardless of the ups and downs of moods, the stock market, love affairs, births, deaths, and ice cream sundaes, calories, grades, salaries, and even self-esteem, we really need to remember to be grateful in life.

A few months ago I wrote a blog about the series COSMOS, and shared a song I'd written in response to that series, and the science we are all learning today.  It flowed from a profound sense of humility and gratitude that I felt.  It was that humility Carl Sagan stirred in us in his famous commentary about the pale blue dot.  Thanksgiving this year stirs some of the same feelings for me of humility and gratitude to be alive in this wondrous creation, with choices and abilities, and the blessings of family and friends, of Church community, of my Faith in Christ.

I just thought of another reference that captures that feeling, and it is from a beautiful show I watched often with our daughter Rose when she was a little girl, and many times throughout the years since.  It is called "The Last Unicorn" and its focus is on hope and gratitude!  The unicorn has long represented Christ, and it is easy to see the reference in that movie, and certainly in the theme song.

I'm alive!  I am grateful, not only for my life, but for the lives of all those I cherish, those whose lives are shared here with me still, my beautiful husband and best friend, Joe and our precious treasure, our daughter Rose!  For my many feathered and furry family members who enrich my soul and reflect their Maker with each look or lick.  I am grateful for my extended family and how good they are--credits to my brothers and sisters in law who have raised wonderful children to be wonderful adults.  Grateful their lives are shared with love. I am grateful that our Pocono community is safe (and quiet) once again after being under a near-lockdown for so long with the recent manhunt.  I am grateful for the members of my religious community and the Celtic Christian Church.  I am grateful for the fine men and women who are dedicating themselves to building up Whithorn School of Theology to help enrich the lives of others.

Yes, at the end of the day it's all about gratitude.  So, come on snow storm!  You don't scare me.  You may cause us to celebrate here at home rather than join the extended family, but you don't scare me because nothing can separate those who are bound by ties of love.  For this I am so grateful this Thanksgiving.

God bless us all.