|When I came across an article on the medieval tradition of allegory and CS Lewis as a sensational literary critic, Brian Mustain came to mind. In turn, he shared his Thanksgiving Declaration 2020, which warmed and encouraged me. I am thankful for Brian’s long participation at NCF; I have sought his prayers many times over the years, valued his insights, and appreciated his voice. May his words remind you of your own thanksgivings. -Renée|
I will be completely alone on Thursday, my first time on Thanksgiving Day. During various times of my life, I was with nuclear family + a grandmother; with the entire community of Aubrey, Texas for a combination social gathering-potluck and fundraiser for the local cemetery; with gatherings of friends when in graduate school; and eventually full circle back to nuclear family—the second time around with my lovely wife and kids, often plus various friends.
But on Thanksgiving Day 2020 I will be alone because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Yet I am overflowing with thanksgiving and gratitude to God for the unspeakable number (and quality!) of blessings I have known and continue to experience. I cannot be sad. I dare claim that probably 90% of the humans who have ever lived on this planet would have given nearly anything in order to trade places with me right now.
Roughly from least to greatest:
I am warm, living in a house that, relying on what must seem like magic to people in most previous generations, maintains whatever temperature I choose. With a twist of my wrist, I can make hot or cold water (or anything in between) come out of a shiny pipe in my kitchen or bathroom. And the water is delicious and free of toxins or microorganisms (I realize that’s not true everywhere in America, but our Mahomet Aquifer provides wonderful water!).
I have an electronic piano that sounds better than most “real” pianos, and tons of music for solo piano or for piano/voice, so that I can play a deeply moving piece or a squeajily joyful piece anytime I like.
I can listen to music of Mozart or Bach or Shostakovich or Poulenc (etc.) anytime I like.
A flick of my finger turns on light anywhere in my house. Or music or news broadcasts from down the street or even thousands of miles away. Via the internet, I can access information about virtually anything within a few seconds—how cool is that?!
My house is solid, not seriously compromised by strong winds or rain or snow or ice. I live in a neighborhood (in fact, in a small city) where every street (by law!) is lined with trees that the city plants and prunes at their expense, so that the streets are shaded during the growing season by emerald canopies that, in the fall, offer a kaleidoscope of yellows and reds and oranges and tans.
Within ¾ of a mile there are markets where I can purchase nearly anything I need, including any kind of food—food that is free from contamination and basically healthful (well, if I shop intelligently!). At one of those stores I pick up prescribed drugs that, thanks to modern medicine, are able to thwart symptoms of various ills I have developed over the years. A cool bonus: the pharmacists and their assistants greet me by name.
My next-door neighbor plants part of his extensive organic vegetable garden in my back yard; I get to harvest anything I want from it. In fact, I have unbelievably wonderful neighbors all around!
I can walk in my neighborhood without fear of attack by thugs or harassment by government forces. I live in a city and a state and a nation where, except unfortunately in certain relatively defined areas, one is generally safe from crime and spared from government intimidation.
I have an orange cat named Julius who likes to sleep on my lap and who is (usually) obedient to several different commands.
Even with various mechanical and metabolic problems, my body is essentially healthy.
I am part of a church in Champaign-Urbana where there are a number of people who love me.
I am part of a small nationwide Christian fellowship comprising dozens of people who love me dearly and even appreciate and respect me and who, were I to call and say I had an emergency and needed to come stay with them for a couple of weeks, would say, “Come on!” without asking questions. How many people can say that?!
For nearly half a century I was married to the most amazing woman. Hers was without doubt the purest heart I have ever encountered. I marveled before we were married, and during our long and joyful marriage, and continue to marvel two years after she died, how I ended up getting to marry a princess whom I unambiguously did not deserve. But thanks to the counsel of a very wise woman, Veranne Graham, I was able to understand that deserving is not relevant when one is dealing with the Creator and Lover and Redeemer of the universe, with whom, mirabile dictu, “ALL is gift!” And so I joyfully accepted that largesse of love and companionship for all those years until it was time for Elaine to graduate to greener pastures.
Elaine bore five incomparably wonderful and blessed children. As is true concerning my wife, I in no way deserve the joy and multitude of other blessings that accrue to me from my children, each of whom loves God, loves me, is brilliant and creative, loves God’s creation, has a mind filled with music, and has a servant’s heart to shine Light into the lives of those who have experienced little of the Light. Two of my sons have incomparably wonderful wives, and between them they have born three incomparably wonderful children.
My sins are forgiven. The Creator and Sustainer and Redeemer of the universe loves me and has borne the wickedness of my heart within his own heart, at infinite pain to himself, and has banished it forever (ditto for all those I love!!!). He has deigned (he DELIGHTS!!!) to dwell within me, creating supernatural joy and peace and love every day of my existence, guiding me, protecting me from evil, constantly bestowing supernatural (undeserved!) gifts upon me that make my life immeasurably brighter and more filled with goodness than I ever could have imagined before I met him.
How can I not be thankful?!
I am richer than any ancient emperor, and most likely than any present-day billionaire.
Yes, absence from family and loved ones this Thanksgiving Day will make me sad. But contrast that with the joy that constantly floods my life, and there is no comparison.
I AM THANKFUL!!! I AM EXCEPTIONALLY WEALTHY/BLESSED!!!
No matter your specific situation, I encourage you to contemplate the multitude of blessings in your life. There no doubt is so much for which you can/should be thankful!
I will praise you, LORD, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. For great is your love, higher than the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies. –Psalm 108:3-4 NIV