27 November 2008

Gratitude and Grace

The house is starting to overflow with the aroma of spices and cooked foods. Colorful entrees are starting to be lined up on the counter - a golden brown pumpkin pie, a bright orange sweet potato casserole, crimson-colored cranberry sauce, green Brussels sprouts and apples, deep plum-red wine - waiting to be boxed for transport to my sister's house where they will be placed on the table with turkey, stuffing, salad, mashed potatoes, and other pies. We'll have a toast of champagne and share something for which we are thankful before we sit down to eat. Despite occasional failures, disappointments and setbacks, a troubled world that sometimes seems on the brink of overwhelming us with financial fears, political strife and divisions, we have many reasons to be grateful: health, family, love. Without the overabundance of food and wine, we would still have these. We live with grace everyday; it is there in what we choose to see, in the recognition of the daily blessings in our lives.

I walked out of my office building last night and saw that the traffic on the interstate was moving slowly, but not stopped. There were no flashing emergency lights for the nearly two-mile stretch I can see. For just one moment things were running smoothly, people were on their way home, or to the store, or to visit loved ones. The air had a crisp, autumnal quality to it, not quite as cold as it had been in the morning. The sun had already set but the sky was still blue, on the edge of turning black. A few stars were shining. It had been a busy day at work, but I felt like I had accomplished much. It had been an ordinary day, a good day. I was thankful for all of these things: smooth-flowing traffic, crisp air, twinkling stars, a rewarding feeling for work well done.

It is so easy for me to gripe at times about working with people who do things that seem idiotic to me, who's agendas are different than mine, who have different things to accomplish that don't align with my goals. It's easy to kvetch about dealing with traffic jams, and not to consider the misfortune of those with the flat tire or broken down automobile blocking the exits or even those exhibiting the inconsideration of others when they try to cut into traffic because they have places they need to go too. It's easy to complain about how it's almost winter and I'd rather be somewhere warm.

But these are all minor things. It is just as easy to be grateful for having transportation, a job, a cool night with a starry sky, a family to go home to. I often forget that. My goal from now until the end of the year is to recognize something to be grateful for each day, some occurrence of grace in my life or the lives of those around me, and to be thankful for it.

Today I can be grateful for the love of family the comforts of a secure place to live, a home, and the abundance of food. But I can also be grateful that this world has little things of beauty abounding in it, like misshaped sweet potatoes covered in dirt that someone worked hard to grow, to transport to the market, for the man who is struggling to operate the local growers' mart, so I could buy them to grace my table.

Happy Thanksgiving, dear reader. May your life be full of blessings and joy.

From, links to poems about Thanksgiving.

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