“But Thanks Be to God”: An Eighth Reflection

Today is the day designated for public thanksgiving to our Creator for gracious gifts which his divine Providence has lavished upon us. Thus, it is fitting for me to, as I have done this day for the past seven years, reflect on the various and manifold blessings God has poured on me over the course of my life, and in particular this past year, and how I have responded to this beneficence (with the inevitable conclusion that I have utterly failed to show appropriate gratitude).

This is the eighth year I have written on this theme; in the first such reflection, in 2009, I explained the blessings I was grateful for at length and in some detail, and in subsequent years I have more briefly listed those blessings I had forgotten and those new in the past year. And so again today.

There is very little I am newly thankful for this year, as there has been no new change in my life, and I haven’t thought of anything significant that I forgot in previous years.

I remain grateful for God’s protection, shelter, and preservation. Despite traveling hundreds of miles over the past year, with my attention sometimes wavering even in dangerous situations, he has kept me safe from all accident, and despite continued neglect, he has granted me generally excellent health. I live in a country, and a neighborhood, where explosions are more likely to be fireworks than an invading army. And all around me, things have generally worked and held together.

I am grateful for good books, many now released to read without charge on the Internet—for all that there are far more I have time to read. And I am grateful for the ideas that he has allowed me to write down, in poetry and preparations for prose, and the encouragement and help of friends in my development of those ideas. I am also grateful for those (so far few) who have bought my (first and so far only) book.

I am grateful for the wealth of poetry, music, and sermons handed down from past generations to guide my worship of God, so that I do not have to every day sing an entirely new song.

I am grateful for the chance to see God’s grace in the lives of my friends, as some prepare for marriage and others have welcomed healthy newborn children.

I am grateful for a generally-reliable postal system that carries letters and packages across the country in mere days for what must now be considered a pittance. And for the liberty to use the material wealth God has lent me to (more or less) buy what seems good to me, or give of that wealth or my purchases as seems good to me.

Most of all, I am grateful for God’s mercy: he has not treated me as I deserve, but not only does he continue to hold my constituent atoms together, he has promised everlasting life.

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

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