Thankful, 2011

Halloween is over and the Christmas crush has started. A full year before an election and we are already saturated with political news. The globe is cooling…or warming – it all depends on who you read. Is solar energy a farce or our future? I hope it is the latter. Stay tuned for more bailout buzz as your public servants make fools of themselves. In the Theater of the Surreal, “devout” Roman Catholic and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi excoriates Roman Catholic bishops for having “that conscience thing” concerning funding abortions and birth control contrary to church teaching. Ms. Nancy, just be honest and find another church. Our President declares that the concerns of the Occupy Wall Street protesters are the reason he became President – as he jets off to another round of fund-raisers with his special “1%” friends. Meanwhile, Republicans seem to take tired old Newt Gingrich seriously, in spite of multiple character and political compromises. Perhaps it is all a case of ABO – Anybody But Obama – infecting the process.

But today I am thankful. Not for the nonsense mentioned above, but for the real blessings bestowed by God on our nation and planet. The Thanksgiving Holiday is the least sullied, least commercialized day off remaining on the calendar. It is a simple moment: we return thanks to God for all the blessings, take time with family and friends, look for ways to serve the less fortunate and tuck into a good meal. We pause to consider that all we need for sustainable, prosperous living is within reach, if we will be creative, ethical and generous. This week I return thanks for hot water to bathe in, food and water that is healthy, and work that is meaningful. I embrace family and friends and pray that I can be a friend to another who is lonely.

A few days ago I went to the YMCA to exercise. In the gym I saw a dad and his son playing basketball. The little guy was good and reminded me of another “fiery humanist and repressed basketball star (too short)” at his age. The quote about me from my father’s description in his 25th Anniversary Harvard Alumni Journal. What was wonderful was the affection of the Dad and the joy of the little boy as they shot hoops and joked together. For a brief moment, all was right: a parent enjoying his role, a child cared for and laughing and a community center supporting these healthy activities.

I am thankful to God. I am grateful for Kathy and 31 years of loving marriage. I am overtaken with joy when I think of each of my adult children. They are not exempt from challenges, but they are full of faith and making their way forward, all the while thinking of others. I am grateful for churches to worship in, students to mentor and teach, colleagues to grow with, audiences to encourage and facebook friends opening vistas of humor and wisdom. I am thankful for health and humbled by friends who return thanks while severely ill. I am glad for life, and join with others in mourning the loss of family members. We laugh through the tears, hug each other and keep walking by faith.

I am thankful that I can make a difference through my prayers, words and works. I am grateful that I can think out loud without fear of imprisonment – something denied to billions on our beautiful sphere. And, despite all the hot air, I am glad I can go to a polling location and cast my ballot.

I am thankful and encourage all who read this to pause and praise in the midst of pressurized lives.

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