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Friday, Aug. 26, 2016

It's time we pause and give our thanks

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

It would be appropriate for this column at this time of year to give thanks for the countless blessings that surround each of us.

When you sit down to calculate a list of those items on which to give thanks, I hope and pray that your list is long and growing. But the reality is that life's many issues sometimes stand in the way of the bigger picture.

Any informal survey will clearly show that health issues - or the lack thereof - are the single largest factor for which we give thanks. "At least you have your health..." is a relatively common refrain.

Family follows closely on the heels of the issue of health in that same survey.

So when families gather this week to give thanks, the twin issues of health and family will take center stage, as they well should.

And despite the dysfunction in our current society, there remains ample room to give thanks for those who guard our safety and make the sacrifices that are essential to maintain this great country. It is through their sacrifices that we can join together in giving thanks.

One of the absolute earliest stories I can remember as a child was the well-worn example, "I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet." And that one small story which we've all heard tells us to be thankful for the blessings we've been given and to put our small worries in perspective.

Now being honest, it's easier said than done on some occasions. But the story still rings true today.

As utterly disgusted as I find myself over the dismal state of social and government affairs currently, I remain hopeful and thankful that there remain a few who genuinely have our best interests at heart. They too sacrifice on our behalf. And increasingly, they make those sacrifices while a jaundiced public heaps abuse beyond imagination.

The popular notion is to compile a "bucket list" of those items in our lives that we still hope to accomplish. Perhaps we should instead - at least this week - focus on those items already accomplished for which we should be grateful.

I was enjoying a private "pity party" of sorts recently when a man my age slowly made his way in my general direction. He was using a walker having suffered a stroke.

My "pity party" ended as quickly as it began. That was followed by an appropriate level of guilt at my selfishness.

I'm far from alone in this selfishness. We are all guilty of bemoaning some issue in our lives or the lives of those close to us. But if given time and perspective, we can all agree there are others in much greater need than any we've ever faced.

For a brief time, forget the economic woes that surround our futures and forget the unrest that threatens this nation and instead focus on those issues large and small that combine to give us reason to be thankful.

It may not be easy and it may be temporary at best. But hidden in our all-too-personal doom and gloom there still remains ample room for gratitude.

And hope.

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Michael Jensen
Michael Jensen