“But Thanks Be to God”: A Seventh Reflection

This is the day designated publicly to give thanks to our Creator for the gracious gifts he has, in divine Providence, lavished upon us. And so it is fitting for me to, as I have done this day for the past six years, reflect on the manifold blessings with which God has showered me over the course of my life, and in particular the past year, and whether I have responded as I ought to this beneficence (to the inevitable conclusion that I have utterly failed to act in appropriate gratitude).

This is the seventh year I have written to describe and summarize those people, events, and things for which I give thanks to God; 2009 saw an extended reflection in which I explained them in some detail at length, and each subsequent year I have written an addendum, more briefly listing those blessings I had forgotten and those new in the past year. And so again today.

This year, I am grateful for the shelter and protection from danger that God has provided. The potential dangers of the world were “brought home to me” by a few “close calls” while driving, a few major accidents I was not involved in but was affected by, and severe weather warnings that forced me to seek shelter but left me and mine untouched. And despite one brief illness severe enough to prevent me from accomplishing anything, and several lesser ailments, my body remains in far better health than my neglect of it warrants.

I am grateful for the ability, means, and opportunity to bring joy to friends and family, by words, gifts, and even seeming mere coincidence.

I am grateful for the opportunities to work alongside friends, on class projects and on projects of actual use.

I am grateful for the technology that enables me to listen to concerts and sermons (though I used that ability far too little in the case of the latter) at significant distance in both time and space.

I am grateful for the wealth of books, in my possession and available through public libraries or for purchase, that I have almost at my fingertips.

I am grateful for great music, selected by others and playing almost every hour of the day on at least one of the three classical stations within receiving distance of my home—and, to bring it to the minute particular, for the unexpected pleasure of the Hebrides Overture this morning.

I am grateful for the chances I have been given to witness and share, either in person or through pictures and their words later, in the joy of dear friends and acquaintances. And for the chance to enjoy an hour of dancing and company nearly every week.

I am grateful for the chance to renew acquaintance, if briefly, with neglected acquaintances at my class reunion this summer—and for the friends that I still see nearly every week.

I am grateful for physical and virtual letters, replies and otherwise, expected and unexpected, from dear friends—and for the technological, economic, and social systems that make reliable transport of such messages, and of packages, so commonplace we take it for granted.

I am grateful for the many “coincidences” that I know have come from the hand of God: “as it is written,” “the boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places.”

I am grateful for the young designer of my acquaintance who produced the cover for my poetry collection, at a price that I could afford (but that I still think was likely too low).

Lastly, I am grateful for God Himself. Even if everything were to fall to pieces, even as society and government diverge farther and farther from sense, decency, morality, and the path of knowledge and wisdom—as the prophet said,

Though the fig tree should not blossom,
 nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
 and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
 and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
 I will take joy in the God of my salvation.

Every good gift from God’s hand pales (when I begin to see truly and aright) in comparison to the Giver.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
His steadfast love endures forever.

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