“What are you thankful for?”
Facebook asks me on Thanksgiving, “What are you thankful for?”
To be frank, there are many times I’m not thankful. Each day I live alone makes the next day that much colder. Which as the decades of chill pile up it gets close to being cold enough to liquefy the air around me. An emptiness which makes the vacuity of outer space seem like a sea of lead. I’ve come so close to getting good employment, but I keep falling short. It seems I will never accomplish my career goals, nor take a lead in reviving poor neighborhoods, nor write that book I told Dad I would eventually write. And the time left for such things is running out. No grandchildren; no children; no wife; no lover; no real prospects; no sunlight at that horizon. No one to sink my life into, the way that everything in me craves to do. The bank account dwindles. I can barely feel my feet. I try to write, but nothing much comes out. I speak, but it has no effect. I offer ideas, but no one follows up – at least, not until someone else comes up with it. I get compliments, but no complements. No one joins in. Why would I be thankful?
But I am thankful. I’m thankful for the Internet, which has for 20+ years been a way for me to share ideas and information that has helped many people all over the world. It has helped me establish distant contact with many wonderful people doing some amazing things and coming up with even more amazing insights. I’m in a college radio station – a glorious, mixed-up mess which can’t do much of anything right but somehow it has many moments where it comes out better than what is found anywhere else. It’s work, but it’s fun, and so are the people there while I’m there. They’re just not in the rest of my life.
However distant my family members may be, they are still close to my heart. And they will have children. And accomplishments. And troubles – I hope to God they will never have to taste in their lives what I have had to live every day.
I’m still mentally alert (whatever a lert is), still trying new things, still asking questions, still voraciously learning. I’m involved in several charities, though not in roles matching my abilities. If anything, parts of my poor memory have improved of late, and my sense of humor is sharper than ever, especially in response mode. It’s less important that others hear me; it’s more important that they are finding the path I’ve been on for the past three decades or so and started walking it, following through on the ideas themselves. And they are doing that, in public policy, Christian faith, and music. (Well, not in the radio industry – yet.)
And I’m thankful to God for God. I’ve cursed at God, hurled objects at God, tried to abandon God. But He waits until I’m done flailing and brings to mind what amazing gifts are within even the worst days of life — at times, He has to shake them in my face for me to notice them. God has at times been angry at me, and justly so. And very loving. And more than anything, patient. The drawback to God’s presence is that He points me back to everyone else in the world around me. “You get it. Now give it.” But that is where the cold is. It’s rare that people *let* me give it. I relate to God better than I do people, but I’m here to relate to people.
In the end, I’m thankful for each new day. Because I haven’t yet run out of time. There is hope, just by its being there. Something can change. In fact, something will change. Even if not in the circumstances of my own life. But even there, something will change. Each day is a precious gift, even when it seems like there’s an old fruitcake under the wrapping. And even if I never get out of my hole, it’s a hole on top of a big mountain. And when the days stop coming, I will at least have my Lord, up closer than ever. And that will be just fine, when that time comes.
But right now, I still have to deal with the cold.