One of our family thanksgiving traditions involves a walk in the woods or across the fields. The youngest among us collects red, gold, and oaken brown leaves to decorate the dining room table.
As I walk, I consciously collect reasons for giving thanks. I am thankful for:
• sight – God’s world glowing with the colors of autumn. I am surrounded by beauty.
• sound – birds’ songs, squirrel chatter, laughter and words – entangle to create the music of life.
• Family – My youngest granddaughter slips on the muddy path. She holds up her hand, slimy with mud and giggles. Her big brother groans. I smile. Love fills my soul.
• Freedom – to live in this wonderful country where we can speak our minds, go to worship, attend school, get medical care without fear. As Canadians we are blessed.
My son speaks about a friend who has cancer, and my mind shifts to the grief and pain that comes from illness and death. What would I do if one of these who are with me, had cancer? I shiver with the darkness that enshrouds my mind. Because I love them, I feel this pain. Yet nothing could induce me to trade the joy of their presence in my life for the absence of that pain. Yes, I can give thanks even in the midst of sickness and death.
My minister identified these thoughts and feelings as “thanks living” I encourage you to try “thanks living” not just for one weekend but every day all year. Search out the goodness in the midst of the trials and the joys of life and give thanks.
As St. Paul says in his first letter to the Thessalonians , “Be joyful always: pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1Thessalonians 5:16-18 .
Today I received a phone call telling me that a Baptist Missionary wants to take my book “Can I Hold Him?” back to his home in Malowi. He intends to read it to his parishioners there. Of course my books have been in the United States for several years. Feels good to have them going further afield.
When a competitive runner hears the starting gun, his entire body moves in immediate response. He/she knows a fast start is crucial. Today’s life often feels like a hundred metre sprint with the alarm clock replacing the starter’s gun. Even after we retire we are still racing. Every morning, we open our eyes to an endless list of tasks. Our minds are racing even before our feet hit the floor. In the Bible, St. Paul says, “…let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfector of faith…” (Hebrews 12:2) We have certainly accepted the metaphor of life as a race.
It’s September. School has started again. Ready or not, it’s time. This fall, I have a suggestion for us all. Let’s endeavour to follow all of Paul’s instruction rather than half of it. He says keep your eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfector of our faith. When we read the stories of Jesus’ life, we find that he took time for rest and renewal. Yes, he had a busy life traveling throughout Israel. Yes, but he stopped often to pray, to talk and eat with his friends. He kept his eyes open to the beauty of the world around him. He enjoyed and cared about people.
This fall, as once again we dive into our crazy lives, I ask us to remember three things. First, if we had nothing to do, we would soon become bored and feel useless. Much of our busyness brings us satisfaction. We volunteer because the project is worthwhile and we enjoy helping others. So let’s give thanks for what we do. Second, even ten minutes resting in our favorite chair listening to sacred music or reading the Bible, will give us rest. Third, five minutes spent in prayer, truly focused on God, not multi-tasking prayer as we drive to work, will bring renewal. Three small things that require only a change in attitude will give us the power to “run with perseverance the race that is set before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfector of our faith.”