Thanksgiving

2016 has been a hard year for me in several ways, personally and professionally.

But in spite of the difficulties I’ve faced, or perhaps because of them, I am acutely aware this week of some of the blessings in my life.

I record a few here, listed in no particular order, as a memorial.

My computer died recently (I spilled a cup of water on it.) Yet I am thankful I was able to get all the data stored off successfully. (I am especially grateful for the help of my colleague’s help with this!) I am also thankful that said computer works when it is plugged in, as this gives me a few months to save up for a new one.

I bought a car at the beginning of the year. It was a tremendously expensive purchase for me and made me nervous, but the car has chugged along unfailingly through the 15,000 plus miles I’ve put on it since late January. It even survived my first-ever car accident, a fender-bender in a hotel parking lot last February.

I recently had to give up the cat I’d adopted from the shelter, as she was facing some health difficulties I couldn’t deal with. Yet I’m thankful for the month I spent with her, especially for all those cold nights with her curled up against my back or legs as I slept.

My parents too recently lost their kittens, yet I’m thankful for the chance I had to play with them over the summer. Just because a blessing is short-lived is no reason to be ungrateful for it.

While finances are always tight, I’ve had money to cover all my expenses and even some professional development. I am grateful for this.

Over the summer I faced down a few monsters in my life, hang-ups that endangered my spiritual and physical well-being. I wrote about them here. Since then, by God’s grace I’ve seen a few victories, and I’ve seen the monsters retreat a little. I am thankful for this. I am also thankful for the passing of time, which which allows me to see with greater clarity how the monsters in my life are being defeated; this is not something I can easily see in the moment. Grace, as I noted then, is not something easily seen in the moment.

The election was emotionally trying for me, and I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m disappointed with the result. But I’m thankful that God is still sovereign, whoever is president in America. I’m also thankful that in the wake of the election, many people have made a conscious effort to be a little kinder, a little better at listening, a little more willing to speak up for the rights and well-being of others. If it takes the election of someone not known for his empathy to get us all to show more empathy to others, then I am grateful for that.

My life is not as exciting as I sometimes wish. But I’m thankful for some of the adventures I’ve had this year: outdoor art fairs, symphony concerts in the park with friends, and apple cider donuts.

Marilynne Robinson (I noted this in a recent post) observes that “we are contemptuous of transient well-being, as if there were any other kind.” And I feel as though this is sometimes true of us, or at least of me, that we feel as though we have to wait until things are perfect before we can be grateful for them.

She urges instead that we not “devalu[e] present experience because it may be overtaken by something worse.” After all, “Dante,” she notes, “had a place in hell for poeple who were grave when they might have rejoiced.”

And so I am determined, in this moment of thanksgiving, to rejoice. There is much to be grave about, true. But let us rejoice all the more over the flashes of light and goodness which eternally pervade the human experience.

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