A General Thanksgiving

...for the beauty of this world, for the wonder of life, and for the mystery of love.  
page 836, BCP

Partisan in-fighting, economic uncertainty, natural disasters, personal tragedies... Is it any wonder that a deep-seated malaise seems to have settled over the land?  It is impossible to pick up a newspaper, turn on the television, or go online without encountering bad news of some sort.   The wonder isn’t that so many people are chronically depressed, but rather how anyone can manage to be upbeat.  Don’t they have any problems?  Are they stupid?  Perhaps they simple view the world from a different perspective.
Many years ago, during an extremely difficult period in my life, I went to Father Ted in despair, saying I just didn’t know how much more I could take, that I kept thinking things would get better but they didn’t.  Ted’s response was two-fold.  First he said that he had learned from sitting with countless older (and wiser) parishioners over the years that life doesn’t get better, life is, and it’s up to each of us on a day to day basis what we make of it.  Secondly, he said that as a young priest he had had a dying parishioner give him a book entitled To Give Thanks in All Things, and ask him to read it.  He promised that he would.  Ted said when he started it, he thought it was the stupidest book he’d ever read, but he’d made a deathbed promise to read it so he did.  He said it changed his life.  
I was desperate, so I tried it.  First thing in the morning, last thing at night, driving in my car, I made lists in my head of all that God has given me, from a loving family to good health to a beautiful world to a car that worked to a home to live in to a job I loved...... You get the point.  The problems with which I’d been dealing when I went to Ted were still there, but they ceased to feel overwhelming.  They were just there in the midst of the beauty of my world, the wonder of life, and the mystery of love.    
At this time of year when our society breezes right past Thanksgiving Day in a blur of early Christmas shopping, or the angst of not being able to buy as much as others seem to be, let us stop, just stop.  And in that moment of quiet let us turn to God and pray that, “...at all times and in all places, [we] may give thanks to you in all things."