We have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.
- Abraham Lincoln’
1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation
FROM THE FRONT
By Len Semas Main Feature (11/25/2015)
A Time for Thanks Giving
It is 2015. It seemed so far away in the early years of my life, yet it arrived so quickly. Summers used to last forever, and Christmas was always an interminable wait. Young people always want things to hurry up; old people want to slow things down; neither can do either.
I guess the first blessing we have to be thankful for is time itself. There is only so much of it, and when it is gone – it’s gone. No one knows how much time he or she may have, and all of us have been affected by those who ran out of time too soon. Some of us protect time so thoroughly we don’t allow simply enjoying time itself, instead having to fill every moment with something. We leave the world with trophies, certificates, accomplishments of every sort, but miss the pure enjoyment of time filled with nothing but smiles and contentment. We think of others as “wasting” time, but often they lead lives more enriched by those frequent pauses.
The people that fill our lives give endless reasons for thanks. Those that have gone; those that are here; and those yet to be experienced. They all matter. Children, parents, family and friends – and especially those of future generations, our grandchildren… our lifeline to the future. It is said, if we can count our true friends on one hand, we are blessed. I think most of us can count a great many more, especially if we reach back in time. We are blessed by those who entered our lives even for moments; it matters not that they have faded in the passing of time. We are thankful for them still.
The “things” that fill our lives deserve our thanks, especially the ones not seen. Love, kindness, compassion, sympathy, respect, generosity and so many more intangibles are blessings we could never do without, yet it is easy to forget them amidst the more material possessions that we enjoy. Freedom is especially deserving of thanks for without it, nothing else is possible. It is valuable too because it is not merely God-given, but fought for and preserved by brave men and woman who have always arisen when it was threatened or taken from us. For them too, we are thankful, not just on one day set aside for remembrance, but on every day and in every moment.
We are thankful for animals, those that give their lives as sustenance for our diets; those that roam, swim and fly free; and those that fill our hearts as part of our extended families. We call them pets, but they are a great deal more. Much of the joy we experience and the heartbreak we endure revolves around these special critters. Whether a part of the cycle of life, or the cycle of our lives, we are blessed by their presence.
Work is a blessing we may not be as mindful of as we should. Just ask someone who is unemployed, especially at this time of year. Many of us identify ourselves in and by our work; for many others it is a path to enjoy other pleasures. For all, however, it is a necessary thing. A “life of leisure” may sound idyllic, but it lacks the meaning and sense of accomplishment that we need to feel sustained and to grow. Work gives us that – and is a blessing for which we give thanks.
The counterbalance to work is play. Whether it is active in our sports or similar endeavors or more sedentary in crafts, hobbies ore simply, relaxation. We are thankful for the good health which lets us enjoy the more rigorous activities that give us pleasure, as well as the sense of peace and well-being brought to us in those more passive.
In this great country, we enjoy the bounty of endless stores of food. Through the diligence, hard work and advanced agricultural techniques of farmers and ranchers, our food supply is one of plenty. Through the success of the capitalist model, consumers exercise choice among the many options they are presented, having all the want and more than they perhaps need. Among too much of humanity, this surplus goods and freedom of choice is not present, and even the most basic needs remain unmet. We are thankful for our blessings that feed and house and clothe us, and mindful that we must do more for those in need.
One cannot witness the miracle of birth, the power of nature’s fury, the complexity of the atom or the vastness of the universe without marveling at the mere concept of creation. For those who identify with a purely physical model, an ultimate cause is still a challenge. For those who find comfort in a Divine Creator, their need for causation is rooted in faith. Either way, we are blessed by our sheer existence – and we are thankful for it. He is called various names and may take different forms for others. It is an inescapable truth, however, that God exists. Our celebration of Thanksgiving is a means of recognizing all for which we are thankful; and God represents the ultimate beneficiary of those thanks.
No essay could identify the totality of blessings we enjoy, or the depth of appreciation we acknowledge for them. Perhaps it is easier to look inward, and identify with the simple words of a child. Especially those that say, “I love you grandpa.” That is a blessing that captures all others.