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In all things give thanks

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Isaiah 26:3-4
Lord, You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.

Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the Rock eternal.

Quiet night tonight. The slowly melting snow muffles the sounds of the city. Most of us are in bed. Not with kerchiefs or caps, but sleeping and dreaming and waiting for morning...

At Aunt Mary's funeral yesterday several people spoke of recent visits. Her commitment to gratitude for everything in her life was sorely tested. She told me, "I move into self-pity, and then I move out again. I move in, and come back out again."

She had two knee replacements which didn't go well. Gradually, she lost of most of her hope that she would walk again. Exercises were so difficult. Everything was so difficult. After a pretty bad fall, she had to leave her apartment for the nursing home.

I thought of her sometimes when I was going to bed. I wondered how she felt going to bed where she was, knowing she would wake up there again the next day, not much changing, not much going better, not much hope for improvement. So little mobility, so much dependence on very busy nurses and aides for everything.

She wouldn't be taking any walks, or going shopping, or going out for pizza. She wouldn't be traveling ... and Aunt Mary did a lot of traveling in her time. It was very difficult for her to read. Most of her pleasures and privileges had been removed. As Merlin Carothers pointed out in "Prison to Praise," to be grateful she would indeed have to grit her teeth.

So she did. She grit her teeth. And consequently many people received letters and phone calls from Aunt Mary in her last months. A fourteen year old named Zack read the Bible to her once a week, and she helped him learn to play the piano. Her roommate Marjorie loved her. With what vitality she had, Aunt Mary bloomed where she was planted.

Marjorie was inconsolable when she learned of Aunt Mary's death. I didn't see Zack, but I'll bet he was too. And there are so many of us who will miss the conversations and prayers we had with her.

I begin to realize that it isn't where I wake up that matters, nor what I have to look forward to, nor how good I feel stretching and stepping out of bed. ... Well, of course those things matter. But what matters more is whether I'm going to spend my day giving, or taking. And what matters most of all is how I learn to say to God, "Thank you." No matter what.

No matter what.

Lord, make me willing to be made willing to always thank you. For everything. No matter what.



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