November 28, 2014

Cornucopia / Cynthia Dewes

One day is just not enough to list our thanks

Cynthia DewesThis is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad. And be thankful, too. The longer we live, the more we realize how much we have to be thankful for.

Personally, I’m grateful that I’m not like the rest of the sinners around me. Just kidding. Actually, I’m thankful that, although I am indeed a sinner, God will forgive me and let me try again.

Part of that assurance comes from something else I’m really grateful for—having had parents who loved me and made me feel that I was an OK person. They supported me, talked to and listened to me, and let me go when it was time to be independent. That’s essentially what God does, so who could ask for more?

I’m thankful that I had an excellent education, good teachers and appropriate motivation. School gave this only child a social opportunity with a bonus. I came away with continuing intellectual curiosity, and a secure base of knowledge and skill which has lasted a lifetime. It’s been not only helpful, but fun.

I’ve been fortunate to meet many fine people, all kinds and colors and abilities, not to mention interesting personalities and sometimes quirks. My conclusion is that most people are good inside, despite whatever damage in life has made their outsides prickly. My husband likes to call some of them my “orphans,” but I think of them as mentors. We learn from each other.

One thing I am particularly thankful for is humor. For some unknown reason, I find humor in almost every person, situation or event. Humor seems to defuse anger and deflect the pain of some of the bad things that can happen in life. Humor calms us and allows us to see things in a wider perspective. It’s even good for us physically.

I’m so grateful that I could take the interests and talents God gave me and turn them into meaningful work. I love words in all forms: wordplay, word origins, nuances of word meaning, whatever. And that pleasure translated into writing jobs which I’ve enjoyed, from parish and organizational newsletters to editing books to letters to the editor to writing for The Criterion. For me, writing is a way to vent every idea and emotion I come up with.

In a lighter vein, I’m thankful that people are so much fun to observe. They say funny things, often inadvertently. They do ridiculous things and make really stupid decisions sometimes, and then turn around and make profound observations. Just when you’re about to write them off as hopeless, they do something grand and even noble.

Others’ creativity and imagination are a constant source of gratitude for me. They write really funny skits or paint pictures that seem like perfection captured in a few swift lines. They make music that sweeps the soul with joy. They do their hair or wear clothing that is so captivating and “right” that they seem to have come that way from birth. Sometimes, they offer wisdom with the ring of authentic experience.

Naturally I’m thankful for good food, adequate clothing and a welcoming home. But mostly I’m thankful for the people in my life—husband, kids, grands and greats, and superior friends, all of whom reflect God’s grace for me and others. And let us be thankful for our country, which early on has had the good sense to make Thanksgiving a national holiday.

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

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