November 23, 2007

Cornucopia / Cynthia Dewes

New and better reasons for a thankful season

Cynthia DewesWhen we are pressed to come up with reasons why we’re thankful at the Thanksgiving Day feast, we tend to produce clichés.

Most of us are thankful for friends and family, loving children and spouses and, if we’re lucky, good health and the means to live decently.

But, if we really consider the possibilities for gratitude, we realize there are lots more than those. They come from our individual experiences, but still may be common to many of us. It seems to me that this holiday is a time to identify the more unique gifts which God has given, and to return thanks for them, too.

For one thing, as a woman I’m eternally grateful that I was born into a Christian-based society in a developed country like the U.S. The more I learn about living in certain other regions or religious settings of the world, the more I empathize with women who have no control over their own bodies or lives because of backward customs or harshly interpreted religion.

I’m also grateful I was born into a life filled with interesting experiences because of its time and place. I enjoyed a good public school education and an appreciation for the virtues I learned living in small town and rural America. History was reality for me because of the Great Depression and World War II.

As a person, I’m thankful for the gift of curiosity and the tools needed to satisfy it. Reading constantly amuses and informs me, often on subjects I knew little or nothing about before. It can even help me to make a difference in the world and be useful to others after reading explanations of people’s problems or ways to serve their needs.

I’m also grateful that God gave me the urge to travel, a husband who’s willing to go anywhere, and children who live in cities and countries we would never have visited otherwise.

One of my favorite gifts from God is a sense of humor. Fortunately, or maybe unfortunately, I find most things amusing, if not hilarious. There’s a natural optimism inherent in this attitude which annoys some people, but I’m glad to have it. Humor goes a long way to smooth life’s journey and make it joyous.

The thing I’m most grateful for, though, is faith. Somehow, I’ve always believed in God, a God who loves me and knows my heart and cares for me. I’ve never doubted God’s goodness nor blamed God for the sorrows I’ve experienced. And I sincerely appreciate the dignity God has given us in the possession of free will.

Besides that, I’m grateful that I can see God’s hand in the people, places and events I encounter. Almost daily, when people extend smiles, kindness, courtesy and patience, I’m reminded that we’re all made in God’s image. And sometimes I’m reminded of the dangers of misused free will when people are selfish, cruel or indifferent to others’ needs.

Every evening when I draw the curtains for the night, I look out at every season of the year thankful for God’s good creation. Nature is not only beautiful, but also it illustrates the genius and order of God’s plan. Trees and flowers, wind and rain and sunshine all speak to us of the divine joy we share in their presence.

When you get right down to it, how can we not be thankful? And, thankful not only on Thanksgiving, but every day.

(Cynthia Dewes, a member of St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Greencastle, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.) †

Local site Links: