How do you look at everything you have in life? As your just and deserved desserts? Or as gifts to be valued, appreciated and received gratefully? How you answer makes a difference in your reaction to life and its ups and downs.
Recently I was thinking about what I am thankful for, even in these days when so much seems wrong in our world with its violence and terrorism, its scandals and injustices, and its politics that have spawned a new professional class called “spin doctors”. I drew up a brief list that highlights some important things for me.
I’m thankful for ancestors, especially my grandparents who had the courage to immigrate to this country. By doing so, and by their hard work, they gave their children and future generations an opportunity for a far different life than would otherwise have occurred. They did this without knowing the language and leaving behind what was familiar. I stand in awe of them. I’m also thankful for the immigrants of today whose sometimes desperate desire to come to the United States reminds me that despite the flaws this country has, it remains for others a great place to live and construct a future.
I’m grateful for my parents, for the gift of life they gave me, the example they set, and the values they instilled. I thank them for their working long and hard so that my sister and I could have an education and experiences they did not. I thank them for the taxi service to practices and a cheering presence at ball games, for repairing bikes and bandaging physical and emotional wounds, for the kindness they gave as well as the discipline.
I’m grateful for relatives who give a sense of being grounded and for their unconditional acceptance because blood is thicker than water. I especially thank those who are also friends, and for friends who are closer to me than some relatives. I thank them for the support and the challenges, for sharing joys and sorrows, dreams and nightmares.
I’m thankful for the world of nature in all its splendor: meteor showers that make me look up in wonder, the rhythm of waves at the shore, calm lakes and a kayak to explore them, the song of birds in the morning, the cry of a hawk in flight, bike trails along rivers, mountains to ski, the power of a thunderstorm and the delicate perfume of a rose.
I’m thankful for the first person who looked at a lobster, a clam, a mussel, or a shrimp and wondered what it might taste like. That person must have been very, very hungry! I’m thankful for all who figured out recipes, experimenting with herbs and spices and creating sauces so that eating became dining, something for enjoyment as well as for survival.
I’m thankful for fax machines, ATM’s, the internet, ESPN, and cell phones, except when they go off at church or restaurants.
I’m thankful for God, for God’s love, forgiveness, creative power. I’m thankful for God’s word in Scripture that guides, consoles and calls to ever-deeper life. I’m thankful for the great and generous gift of eternal life, which makes this life’s journey filled with hope and peace even when there are difficulties, tragedies, and sadness.
I am so grateful for eyes to see, ears to hear, and other senses to experience so much beauty. I am grateful for a day like this which makes me notice all these and so many other gifts. I just want to say, "Thank you." Spend some time on your own list. I’ll bet you’ll run out of paper before you finish.
In the end, “All is gift.”