“But thanks be to God”: A fourth reflection

Today is the day designated to publicly give thank to our Creator for the gracious gifts which he in his divine Providence has lavished on us. And so it is fitting to reflect on the manifold blessings God has poured out over the course of my life: the ways in which “the boundary stones have fallen for me in pleasant places,” the wonderful people he brought into my life, and my preservation from disaster. It is also fitting to consider whether my response to his beneficence has been suitable—with the inevitable conclusion that I have utterly failed to act in appropriate gratitude.

Three years ago, I wrote an extended reflection detailing many of the blessings I felt had been bestowed upon me over the course of my life; this became something of a tradition over the next two years. If I were to begin at the beginning again, this essay would take essentially the same form and include essentially the same contents as that first reflection, only far more briefly and sporadically because I wrote it over the course of several days and have come to this year’s more belatedly, so I strongly encourage you to return to it (and, to a lesser extent the two subsequent entries), as I have and will again, and join me in thanking and praising God for what he ha done throughout my life. Today’s post is, as in the past two years, an addendum, especially of causes for gratitude specific to or new this year.

It seems fitting to begin, as I did last year, liturgically, with a bit of the “Sursum Corda” and an excerpt from the catechism (amended slightly for the purpose):

It is fitting for us to give thanks. It is right and fitting, our joy and our salvation, that we should at all times and in all places give thanks to you, almighty, everlasting God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

I am thankful

That the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who out of nothing created heaven and earth with all that is in them, who also upholds and governs them by his eternal counsel and providence, is for the sake of Christ his Son my God and my Father. [That] I [can] trust in him so completely that I have no doubt that he will provide for me with all things necessary for body and soul. [And that,] [m]oreover, whatever evil he sends upon me in this troubled life he will turn to my own good, for he is able to do it, being almighty God, and is determined to do it, being a faithful Father.

And I am grateful for God’s providence:

The almighty and ever-present power of God whereby he still upholds, as it were by his own hand, heaven and earth together with all creatures, and rules in such a way that leaves and grass, rain and drought, fruitful and unfruitful years, food and drink, health and sickness, riches and poverty, and everything else, come to us not by chance but by his fatherly hand.

This year I am grateful for the joy that God brought me, in particular through the chance to go to Evart (including the days before “the festival proper” began) again, and the chance to begin to learn Scottish country dancing.

I am grateful for fellowship with friends, in person here (and at Evart) and virtually abroad, friends old and new—for fellowship, conversation, and correspondence. I am grateful for online communities that let me meet and make friends by gathering people with whom I cannot help but say, as Lewis put it, “You too? I thought I was the only one.” I am grateful for “sharpening” of my faith and of my abilities as a writer and designer, and opportunities to make myself useful in the “sharpening” of others.

I am grateful for the data that “likes” and comments have given me on the worth of my poetry, as I gradually prepare for my first collection. While the feedback has not been as much as I would perhaps have liked, it has still been far more than the experience of past years has given me to expect.

I am grateful that I finally got through the first and most obvious (to me) piece of my “data backlog” the pile in my inbox and blog reader dating back to, in some categories, last November or before.

I am grateful for good books and good music. And for the fair number of gems of fan fiction I’ve found (among vast quantities of worthless trash)

I am grateful for preservation from untold dangers and for manifold blessings I have not even noticed. This year I feel that I have often been even less conscious of the world passing by than in years past. But I am grateful for the preservation of my mind to notice the blessing of even these few scattered items, and a few others I’ve thought of during the year but since forgotten. May I be more mindful, and may I more suitably respond out of the gratitude that is his due.

Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who gives us bread from the earth, and who gives us the fruit of the vine. Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who has kept us in life, sustained us, and brought us to this moment.

And, readers: What are you thankful for?

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