“Over the meadow and through the woods”. . . the words of an old song depict a Rockwell-esque setting held only in our imagination.
Thanksgiving is a time when we take mental inventory of our many blessings. A family tradition is to go around the table and share our thanks or put a written slip into a basket and guess which family member wrote the gratitude piece!
Recently pouring through old journals, I realized how many holidays have been spent in a hospital with a loved one. Many times our Thanksgiving table was a metal tray and the centerpiece was the afflicted one in a sickbed.
I bowed my head low as I read the November entries. The baby son who nearly died from a rare illness; the same son as a young adult, lay still in a trauma unit from late October until January, the result of a near fatal car accident; a younger son who received a kidney transplant; and a husband who suffered multiple strokes, heart attack and ultimately pronounced brain dead.
Remembrances of being gathered around the bounty of family and food seemed distant while keeping the bedside vigil and partaking of a sterile feast in a hospital room. Despite the narrow vision of our personal circumstances it was clear to see that we were not unique. Surrounding rooms and cubicles were crowded with patients and their loved ones.
First, I’m thankful that I’m thankful.
At one time our table was swollen with children and grandchildren. I’m reminded that we must seize the moment because too soon our table can be altered by loss or separation in some form.
I give thanks for occupied chairs. The unexpected miracles seated at our table. I give thanks for empty chairs. Keepsakes holding memories of where my mother and aunt were once seated. Although they are at a greater banquet, their presence remains at our table. Voices past, still heard.
I speak with many who find this special day just another added stress. Fussing and preparing, dealing with family drama of relatives they’d rather not see. I’ve been there.
Until . . . I had to be somewhere else that helped me see the radical blessing of everything and everywhere. Cherish the seat that holds a loved one.
The gift of now.
Perhaps it takes a purer faith to praise God for unrealized blessings than for those we once enjoyed or those we enjoy now. AW Tozer