It’s that season, all too short I say, when we concentrate on our blessings with gratitude for them and acknowledgement of the Source. We often try to list our blessings, like a shopping list of chosen items, and try to put it all in perspective. We tend to consider blessings as those things that give us creature comforts plus peace of mind. We try not to take for granted the food, shelter, and clothing, plus the pursuit of happiness. We seldom realize that the very happiness we pursue is as elusive as the 3-D butterfly on a big theater screen, and our pursuit is oftentimes selfish if we have that mindset of a lifetime search for happiness. Happiness, which means different things to different people, is not something to be pursued. Rather it’s more of a byproduct of a life filled with habitual gratitude. Someone has said that there are three elements of happiness: someone to love, something to do, and something to look forward to. You’ll notice that definition does not include sunshine or music, fine art or pretty clothes, a full tank of gas, or a mortgage-free home, all things that might be considered blessings. In the model prayer left to us by Christ Himself, we are urged to ask only for our daily bread, and for forgiveness, a huge blessing when obtained. We’re to ask that we not be led into temptation and that we be delivered from evil. All of us experience these blessings all the time without being aware of it. That funny song from years ago, “O Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz,” always comes to mind when this subject comes up. Perhaps the guy should have asked Santa instead.
It’s been at least 75 years since I committed to memory the 100th Psalm. Often now I can’t remember a dear friend’s phone number, or where I last saw my purse, or the person’s name who was introduced to me five minutes ago, but how blessed I am to have kept the beautiful words and phrases from the Psalm in my mind and heart. They say that children today are not encouraged to memorize, that learning by rote inhibits the ability to understand concepts. I’m afraid I cannot adhere to that idea. If they are correct, that might explain my inability to understand the NYSE and its intricacies, or the 1001 football plays, the ingredients in an atomic bomb, electricity, telecommunications, computers, radios, cell phones with cameras and Internet access at my fingertips, no strings or wires attached. I call all this technology miraculous, but I suppose it’s just science at work, and the miracles are just created in busy minds that aren’t cluttered with memorized multiplication tables, poetry, Shakespeare, or nursery rhymes. Or the 100th Psalm. Don’t look it up. Here it is. “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness. Come before His presence with singing. Know ye that the Lord, He is God. It is He who hath made us and not we ourselves. We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with Thanksgiving and into His courts with praise. Be thankful unto Him and bless His name. For the Lord is good, His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endureth to all generations.”
We were taught from childhood to say “thank you” for any and all gifts, including actions as well as presents. Yet someone has said that true gratitude does not end with a spoken word of thanks. Grateful hearts will respond in action. If we are truly grateful for food, we will share with those who are in need. If we appreciate our freedom, our political process, our democratic republic, we will obey the law, vote, unashamedly fly our flag, and pray for our leaders. Our appreciation for our schools will be expressed by our participation in all facets of our children’s education. If we recognize the wonderful gift of our freedom to worship publicly, we will fill our churches all year, not just at Holy Days. If we love the beauty around us, the trees and mountains, lakes and fields, we’ll not litter the roadsides and mar the landscape with unsightly buildings and junk cars and trash. Our thankfulness for good health will result in healthy lifestyles as well.
I think we all feel gratitude for the abundant life we share. But it’s a simple fact, gratitude is best expressed in deeds … added to those magic words, “Thank You!”
Here’s wishing for all of you a day of true giving of thanks, coupled with an awareness of the power and pleasure of generosity.
I will take this opportunity to thank my readers. I treasure your notes and messages. Please forgive my failure to respond to each of you. I am truly grateful, but terribly lazy.