November 22, 2013

Cornucopia / Cynthia Dewes

There’s always a lot to be thankful for in life

Cynthia DewesThere’s a lot to be thankful for on this Thanksgiving Day. Don’t snicker, I really mean it. Despite the usual human conviction, i.e. the widespread impression that the world is going to hell, there really are many things that can make us grateful.

For one thing, we can continue to be thankful that we live in the United States. This is a country dedicated to personal freedom and personal responsibility, always mindful of the common good. No wonder so many people around the world try to come and be part of us.

We should be thankful that, no matter how hard some of us try to sabotage this noble ambition by making bad personal and national decisions based on greed and selfishness, our initial goal of democracy remains.

And though many of the Founders were pantheists, their concept is inherently Christian because it’s based on treating others as we want to be treated, and hope for the future. Sometimes we forget the responsibilities that this includes, things like taking the mentally ill seriously, instead of wondering why they surprise us with horrible killing sprees.

Personally, I’m thankful that my parents taught me how to live in this world. I know how to save, and take good care of possessions and our environment. I know to walk and drive to the right, to lower my voice in public places, and to do my best at everything. I also learned to pass along such lessons to my kids, as they will to theirs.

I’m thankful my parents also taught me, by word and example and sometimes (sorry, mom and dad) even by bad example, how to maintain happy relationships in marriage and friendship. And I’m thankful for the realization that marriage is a sacramental union which, by its very nature, involves the creation of human life. Just as true friendship creates emotional life.

We’re all grateful that marriages and friendships are not disposable commodities. Still, being human, we’re not always satisfied with our spouse, our friends, our pastor or whoever. But we should understand that half the problem is probably us, and we can work on improving that half.

Of course, we should always be thankful for God’s beautiful creation, much of which exists merely for our pleasure. The morning dew on the grass, sunset over the lake or the trees, moonlight creating a velvet landscape, all are available to us just for the noticing.

We’ve even been given five senses to help us with that. God thinks of everything. We like to think that people are God’s ultimate creation, but whether that’s true or not, we can be grateful that he made them.

We can even be grateful for those times when real grief enters our lives. Scripture says that all things work for good in God’s time. That’s hard to believe, especially during the heat of the trouble. But over time, I’ve learned that it’s true,

At the opposite extreme, we are thankful for the enjoyment of humor. As we know, laughter is one of the greatest aids to health and well-being that we know of. If we live in a family of natural comedians as I did, it helps, but whether we’re funny or not, we can share laughter and cheer

Most of all, we can all be thankful for God’s constant loving care, and be mindful that God always answers our prayers, if not always in the way we expect.
 

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

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