Thanksgiving is almost upon us although if you were to believe all of the hype on television you would think that Christmas is already here. This tendency to view Thanksgiving as just an excuse to over eat and watch football has minimized the importance of this day. Giving thanks, even for the little things in life, helps us to see our world with different eyes. Sure, it has been a rough year, globally we have witnessed the rise in terrorism, from Africa to Europe. It seems that no one is immune from this scourge. We witness the tragic shootings that happen way too often, in movie theaters, malls and in the streets. Lives taken way too early and we stand by feeling helpless. Let alone the political mess that we call the campaign season where the rhetoric is one of fear mongering rather than seeking any true solutions. There is no longer dialogue only who can shout the loudest amongst within the midst of the crowds.
Personally, I have had a rather difficult year both in my vocation and life in general. Being struck down by someone who wasn’t paying attention, breaking my hip and the resulting surgery, left me wondering and confused. Although I am doing better, I still have those moments of deep melancholy, we don’t want to call it depression as that denotes a weakness, so it’s just melancholy, a simpler, easier condition to deal with. Next week it will have been six months since that day in June, and though the physical part is slowly coming back, my interior self still needs time to work things out. Vocationally, as a priest in this time and place, I find myself struggling against the tide of religious indifference. Like a salmon struggling upstream, I seem to be battling against forces well beyond my spiritual strength and that is tiring as well as demoralizing.
Yet, in spite of these struggles, the physical, emotional and spiritual, I do give thanks for all that I have been blessed with this past year. This time of thanksgiving is one in which I can step back and see the bigger picture as well as focus on those small moments of grace. I survived that crash, yes my hip was broken but I wasn’t crippled or worse. I slowly got back on my feet with the love and support of Jane, who in this time has been my rock as well as a loving spouse. I give thanks for those in the world of medicine, the EMT’s, surgeons, nurses, both in the hospital and those who visited, and to the physical therapists who pushed me so that I could walk and ride my bike again. I give thanks for my family, my sons and their support, my two daughter-in-laws and of course, the grandkids.
Life this past year has been a long, and at times, grueling marathon but that has only strengthened me in my daily life. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that our lives are best lived in the moment, caring, loving and living. It is so true that all of the anxiety and worry about the future only makes our present miserable and doesn’t add any minutes to our lifespan. Thanksgiving reminds me of God’s grace and deep compassion and what greater gift can any of us expect and receive.