A Thanksgiving Reflection – Time On Our Side

If there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

If there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Went to church on Thanksgiving morning. I got to be one of the lectors, my all-time favorite church job. Had the great pleasure of reading aloud these perfect-for-the-day words from Paul’s letter to the Philippians:

Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8. (Emphasis added by yours truly.)

During sermon time, members of the congregation stood and said what we were thankful for.

Jane stood and said she was thankful for life. The goodness of life. She didn’t mention that her husband Bob and a beloved daughter-in-law had both died during the past year. But she was among friends; we knew those facts. They were with us, hovering behind and between her truthful words.

Mary stood and spoke about her beloved companion Ruff, who also died this past year. She told about praying with friends at the vet’s office during his last moments of life. Later in the service, Mary carried Ruff’s ashes with her up to communion.

I stood and said that, as the years go by, I grow more and more thankful for time. The way, over time, things look different, and that’s a good thing. I’m thankful that, as time passes, it seems to be possible to actually gain small bits of wisdom.

I happened to stand up after Jane and before Mary, but I didn’t mean my words to refer to either woman’s grief, or to how “time heals all wounds.” Wouldn’t presume, and not sure it works that way anyway. I was just talking about myself. That’s what we do, most of the time.

And when speaking of those small bits of wisdom that come with time, I didn’t mean to deny the wisdom of youth, to imply that the young are foolish and the old wise. The young have their own wisdom. We oldsters delude ourselves if we think that we can retain youth’s wisdom in its entirety, and just pack on more sagacity over time.

No, something of youth’s wisdom is lost across the passing years. A type of courage, maybe, that comes from having your whole life in front of you.

And yet, something is gained in time as well. Only now, looking back, can I see the good in it. Time brings the possibility of forgiveness, and the possibility of healing. Forgiveness for sins that, when committed, seemed unforgivable. Healing of wounds that, when inflicted, felt fatal.

Over time, life offers new possibilities. You move along the path, and your perspective changes. At certain moments, the way ahead broadens into a wide plain. More aspects of life comes into the fold of understanding.

You suffer more, and so come to a better understanding of  the nature of suffering. And of its ubiquity. As a result, compassion grows.

Heroes fall before your eyes and turn into human beings. Villains weep in your presence and turn into human beings. So the fold enlarges, and enlarges again.

I’m thankful for time, for its breadth, and for the possibilities that lie all along its path — past, present, and future.

Dear God, help me open my arms and embrace this life I am given. Grant me the courage to examine the past with compassion, to live in the present with a whole heart, and to look ahead with hope. Amen.

About Margaret D. McGee

Comments

  1. Marybeth Bland says:

    This speaks to me. When younger I was so eager to be independent and away from family ties. Now I am much older. I cherish my phone calls to my parents back east. February my dad will celebrate his 90 th year.

    In my life to be in the moment I must create, . I paint, I sing, I play my musical instruments and we dance.
    I believe if people were busy creating their would be little time to take up arms in battle

  2. Brad Offutt says:

    Margaret, you moved me during this special time to think of how grateful I am each day, each month, each year to be granted more time to enjoy this awesome, wonderful, blessed creation and the fantastic people in it. A year ago, on a trip to another state, we met a wonderful couple and a friendship began. This year we returned to the same place and saw them again. Just before Thanksgiving, one of the pair was diagnosed with possibly operable cancer. She opted immediately for the surgery. She was, and is, prepared to die at any time but she is full of life and prays for more time, if that is what God wants for her. The operation was successful and the prognosis is good. How wonderful that we had the time, and took the time, to see her when we did. And how fantastic that we may all have the time to be together again.

  3. Thank you Margaret! Time does offer new possibilities as well as changes. Times gives one the chance to learn to live with all the changes. I am very grateful for this learning time.