Steve, my new blogger friend, wrote a thought provoking piece recently that started out with how he still does not have a cell phone. The underlying theme, however was really about contentment and how, in the current economy -- which, if it is not robbing us of our jobs and homes, is chipping away at our retirement plans -- we can learn about being thankful.
I recently wrote about a trip I took back to my home town. I am still processing that short journey and its therapeutic effects.
One of the highlights was spending the afternoon with my old next-door neighbors, a couple who are now both 80. She has Alzheimer’s and he is her primary caregiver.
As he and I sat on his sofa together he told me how difficult it is to see his wife of 58 years slowly deteriorate before his eyes. But, he said, he is still thankful for so many things and he gives thanks every day for this opportunity to care for his soul mate.
He told me that years ago in his family medical practice he had an elderly lady as a patient. She had chronic high blood pressure. On one visit he told her it was under control, just where it should be. Her response was, “Thank you, Jesus.” He affirmed her thanks.
On a subsequent visit a few weeks later, her blood pressure had soared and he broke the news to her. “Thank you, Jesus,” she said, just as before. He told her no, she must have misunderstood; this was not a good report.
She looked at my friend the doctor and told him no, she did not misunderstand anything. But she knew that she was to give thanks in all things, and that was what she was doing. My friend said the lesson for him was great and he has never forgotten it. As his wife slowly loses ground, he still gives thanks.
Today my portfolio is losing value even as I write this. I am scared about my job (I work for a bank). My house has a crack in its foundation and needs paint and a roof. I am increasingly concerned about the policies being implemented by the Obama administration, fiscally and socially, and daily get my ire up at the Democrats who blindly follow him.
Tonight, however, I will get in bed with a woman whose love for me, amazingly, just seems to grow. I feel the same way about her. We never run out of things to talk and laugh about. Today I have a job and her business is thriving. We are both healthy. It needs some work, but we have a nice home and we eat some great food here.
We have three children who, at 23, 20 and 16, seem to be on their way to becoming responsible members of society. They challenge us occasionally, but they love us and the five of us still get together and have a blast.
Wife and I have some great relationships that we have nurtured for many years now, both here in Tennessee and back in Arkansas. Wife’s parents are still alive and very much a part of our lives.
And finally, in just about a month baseball will start and for the following six months I will be able to pick up the newspaper, run my finger over the box scores, follow my favorite teams and continually espouse the superiority of the National League.
I hope the economy picks up steam soon. I hope the stock market bottoms out and starts its way back up. And I hope I am wrong about Barack Obama.
My faith, my hope and my values, however, cannot be tied to these matters over which I have no control. And I can – no, I must – continue to, in all things, give thanks.