Our nation is in turmoil, bitterness divides the land and hatefulness seeps into casual conversation, seemingly innocent encounters and daily interactions. In this climate of hostility and mistrust, how can anyone possibly find reason to be thankful? Despite the pall that hangs over the nation like the fog rolling in from the bay, there is a place for thanksgiving in our lives if we care to be contemplative. I have learned, through experience and the benefit of time, that it is when I have been in the midst of a storm, moments of personal stress when even my faith was challenged; that being thankful elevated my spirit and insured against my falling prey to hopelessness.
As Americans, we are prone to outsize expectations of life. We live beyond our means in the hope of living further beyond our means. We succumb to the imagery fed us wirelessly, through a cable or on masterfully crafted pages of magazines that tell us we should have more, we don’t have enough and that we won’t be fulfilled until we purchase that next “thing” that will make us complete. It is an endless cycle of human programming designed to make you feel less than until you acquire more than.
What I learned through personal tragedy, at an early age, is that in my time of greatest despair it was the ability to look around and realize my insignificance that giving thanks corrected my perspective. I had to learn to look at trees differently, to not hear the rustling of the leaves and the chirping of birds but the symphony of God’s natural orchestra, to not resist the wind but let it elevate me. I had to accept that every day, no matter the weather, was beautiful and give thanks for the blessing of waking up and seeing a new day.
Just be thankful
Too many of us feel trapped in the storm and allow fear to overwhelm us. This is particularly true in this current moment. It is understandable but it also robs us of the joy of overcoming, of finding new reservoirs of strength within us, of rising to the challenge and making straight those crooked roads of hate and ignorance that threaten to lead us to our demise. It is in this moment that we must gather the strength to say thanks – to look around and take inventory of our personal bounty.
I am thankful for the fighting spirit bequeathed to me by my ancestors. It is their fearlessness that makes giving thanks a required exercise for me. It is in thinking about their struggle, that my own becomes so less daunting. It is by their faith that I activate my faith, and that I fear not what man can do but what men and women of good conscience fail to do. I give thanks for knowing that this world is resilient; it has withstood despots and maniacs and its people have survived the wickedness of evil intent. And through it all, there were words of “thanks’ muttered by those who could not see a tomorrow but trusted one would occur anyway.
So, look around. You have reason to be thankful and reason not to fear. The human spirit is enduring and we are creations of a power that exceeds that of the human collective. Whatever we see as impossible is simply that which our dutiful thanks have yet to overcome.
I give thanks for…life
I give thanks for…seeing beyond my circumstances
I give thanks for…embracing the struggle as well as the victory
I give thanks…for knowing the rain and the sunshine is one in the same
I give thanks for…every breath, the sights and sounds of every new day and the comfort of going to sleep with the confidence that a better tomorrow will come
Just be thankful
Walter Fields is Executive Editor of NorthStarNews.com.