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Monday, October 01, 2018
Unlimited Thanksgiving by Eleanor Shepherd
The month of October is when we celebrate Thanksgiving in Canada. As the date approaches, I often reflect on the many reasons that I have to be thankful.
I realize that there is much cause for concern, frustration and even fear as we listen to the news or pickup newspapers and magazines and hear of many things going on in our world that do anything but cause us to give thanks. However, I have concluded that for our own psychological and spiritual well being, we need to choose to focus our attention at times on our blessings rather than those things that disturb us and which we can change only with great effort. I am not saying that we should not try to make a difference, but I think we are more capable of doing that, if we take the time to consider what God has done for us and is currently doing in our world that give us cause to rejoice and praise Him. From a place of strength then, we can employ the resources He provides to take positive action to stem the negative tide.
All this is to clarify that when I lift my heart in thanksgiving, I am not ignoring the challenges in our world but rather garnering support to combat those ills I can.
I find the place where thanksgiving overflows spontaneously is in one of my favourite places – the sanctuary where I worship regularly on a Sunday morning, with my church family. As I sat there yesterday morning, with one granddaughter on each side of me, the youngest blissfully napped as the warm voice of the preacher reminded us of the truths of God’s unlimited love and care, even when we mess up, as he spoke from the book of Jonah.
On my other side, sat my older granddaughter, drawing pictures on sheets of paper that Grandpa had offered her. At nearly seven, she appeared to be unaware of what was being said, but from her questions during those quiet times when we have opportunities to chat together, I know that she is also listening. I chuckled to myself as I saw her enter enthusiastically into the praise choruses, clapping her hands in sync with her best friend standing beside her. The two of them are a beautiful reflection of our congregation – one with a pale face and blond curls and the other with an ebony face and black curls. From the time they greet each other at the church on Sunday morning until they leave the building with their families after coffee time and practices the two of them are inseparable.
As well as being at the church with my own family, I also give thanks for my church family. Many of them have become dear friends as together we have prayed for one another, during the challenges of sickness, death, separation and divorce, loss of employment and difficult educational decisions, as well as life altering accidents, births, marriages and the daily conundrums of living that we just need to share with someone.
However, my gratitude is not limited to those who share my particular world-view either. Perhaps it is related to aging, I am not sure, but I have found that the more I learn about people and the contributions that they make to the lives of others, the more I appreciate them, whoever they are. I have come to discover the truth of the well loved hymn, “There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy,” for I am finding that there are many who may never enjoy the sacred time in a church sanctuary that I do, yet are still touched by the presence of God and respond to His loving presence by doing kind things for others. When I see what they do, I give thanks to God. He is doing more than we can ask or imagine and that is good reason for thanksgiving.
Word Guild Awards 2018
Word Guild Awards 2011
Word Guild Awards 2009
Eleanor Shepherd, an award-winning writer is a retired Salvation Army officer and has published over 100 articles internationally. A speaker at conferences, in Canada, the USA, France, Belgium, Switzerland, South Africa, Australia, Haiti and Jamaica, her stories appeared in Hot Apple Cider and Christmas with Hot Apple Cider.Her book More Questions than Answers, explains her style of evangelism by listening