Friday, November 27, 2015

A Time to Think of Giving Thanks

The Thanksgiving holiday is always a good time to take stock and recall what we're thankful for. The last time I did this publicly was two years ago; I shan't compare the two reflections. As I ponder the year, numerous events and people which inspire gratitude come to mind. Some events are horrific ones generating gratitude because I was not part of them.

I am thankful for:
  • Ellie, my sweetheart of a wife.

    I would hope the reason for this is obvious.

  • The downing of the Russian passenger aircraft, for which ISIS took responsibility ( and wanted, can you believe it, credit ).

    My gratitude is that neither I nor any of my loved ones were on that plane.

  • The visit of Pope Francis to the United States.

    I am grateful that he is the leader of my faith family.

  • The synod on the family that Pope Francis called and presided over.

    The specific outcome(s) of the Synod are not important; I am grateful for his calling for it, for his asking for input about it from the laity, and for his consistent message to the clergy in attendance: speak your mind, disagree if that what is on your mind, debate and disagreement are the marks of a church that is alive.

  • The many snippets ( sound bites if you will ) that Pope Francis has uttered ... and some of these precede this year The general tone is home-spun rather than intellectual wisdom, the kind most everyone can relate to. And it speaks of a church more interested in the people of the Church than the Church itself. A sampling:   
    • "Who am I to judge?"
    • "I see the church as a field hospital after battle."
    • "I believe in God, not in a Catholic God, there is no Catholic God, there is God ... "
    • "Men and women are sacrificed to the idols of profit and consumption:"
    • "It is harder to let ourselves be loved than it is to love."
  • The ISIS attack(s) in Paris

    While I certainly abhor both the attacks and the evil behind them, I am grateful they didn't happen here and that they didn't directly touch anyone that I know.

  • On a much more personal level, there are a number of 2015 events and people I encountered that inspire gratitude.
    • The retreat I went on just after Easter; it was a wonderful experience.
    • The fall that Ellie experienced while I was on retreat did nothing more than worry most everyone connected with it.
    • Ellie's moving in with Loretta to help care for her cancer ... I am grateful she was able to do that and proud of her for so doing
    • My ability to cope while Ellie was gone.
    • The extraordinary grace Loretta brought to her entire dying experience.
    • The friends of Loretta's who came to see her while she was in hospice and brought more than enough love to fill the room.
    • The staff at the Hospice who did so much to keep Loretta comfortable and welcome Ellie and everyone who came to visit Loretta
    • The staff at the Basilica who did so much to make Loretta's funeral and burial a celebration of her life.
There is much for each of us to be thankful for. Please do it. And please take a small amount of time at the end of every day to notice the beautiful things that happened and the people who touched your life that day.
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