Monday, October 12, 2015


Thanksgiving day -- turkey's roasting in the oven, pies are cooling on the shelf, autumn leaves provide a colourful background and friends are gathered together.  It's easy to give thanks.  
But I am reminded of One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.  She strove to give thanks, even when life wasn't perfect.  She listed squabbling children in her journal, thankful that they were healthy and independent and hers to teach.  She gave thanks for a jumble of shoes in the hallway, the sign of a happy, busy household.
   She also points out in her devotional of the same name that a list of easy gratitudes may not lead to real thanksgiving.  Unless we dig deep in the less pleasant moments of life to find true blessing, we haven't really achieved Paul's admonition to "give thanks in all things."  Discontent is part of human nature.  We will never rid ourselves of discontent by trying to root it out.  That leaves a vacuum and discontent comes racing back. But if we replace discontent with gratitude, one small moment at a time, then we can experience true grace.  All those little moments add up until they overwhelm greed and envy and worry and our lives are transformed.
   I was reminded of her words when I listened to The Vinyl Cafe on CBC radio.  This thanksgiving weekend, Stuart McLean, storyteller and creator of The Vinyl Cafe gave out the Arthur Awards, a recognition of small acts of humanity that have enriched the lives of family and neighbourhoods.  The awards are small, a copy of McLean's latest book, or maybe tickets to a show, the acts are small, like phone calls or snow shovelling, but they have tremendous effect on their corner of the world.  
     This year there was a nomination for a voice -- the letter-writer didn't know who owned the voice, but every morning she heard it shout, "Wah-hoo," and it brightened her day.  The voice has gone silent and she misses it.  Another time the Arthur was awarded to a man who had made it his business to string Christmas lights on a lonely stretch of highway, to cheer strangers passing by. 
    I'd love to nominate McLean himself for an award.  His tales, filled with humour, gentleness and just plain goodness, are a welcome antidote to the steady stream of tragedy and disaster and evil that dominate our airways.  However, people who work on the show aren't eligible to receive an Arthur so my nomination remains unsent.  
    I'm grateful to the Apostle Paul for his witness and his instruction.  I'm grateful to Ann Voskamp for her writings on thanksgiving.  And I'm grateful to Stuart McLean for his stories of the small things that add up to a grand thanksgiving.
   Happy Thanksgiving everyone.  I hope your table groans under the spread of food, that you run out of chairs for your many guests and that you find a small moment in the day to be grateful for all things.

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