Lynn Rothenhoefer - October 16, 2017
When contemplating what I wanted to say about thankfulness, I considered song lyrics, stuff I was thankful for, people I was thankful for, poems, quotes… the usual. Two things automatically popped into my head:
- Song lyrics to – “Thankful” by Josh Groban
“Somedays, we forget to look around us,
Somedays, we can't see the joy that surrounds us,
So caught up inside ourselves,
We take when we should give,
So for tonight we pray for,
What we know can be,
And on this day we hope for,
What we still can't see,
It's up to us, to be the change,
And even though we all can still do more,
There's so much to be thankful for…”
- My daily prayers, which ironically I do while I’m brushing my teeth with my toothbrush with a timer. It’s been amazingly positive for my prayer life and my teeth! Most importantly I've committed to using the first timed part to give God THANKS! Before I go into my whole litany of things I need, others need, etc. I try to remember to give Him thanks.
What is it that is meaningful about THANKS? Well the obvious is acknowledgement for having done something nice or helpful; for having thought of someone other than you. You give me a gift – I say, “thank you,” as I am grateful. I get out of my car and open the trunk to get out a big box to carry in and one of the student-athletes offers to help me – I say, “thank you,” as I appreciate the help. These are good and positive standards. It's relatively easy to be thankful when it is obvious, and you are being helped, or you what you get.
What about those times when you are being challenged, or are learning a tough lesson or things aren’t going as planned? Who’s thankful for that? This is what I have learned over time to be thankful for, and in Groban’s song lyrics what is going on when “we forget to look around us… so caught up inside ourselves…” I remember a spring service trip I went on to Lafayette, LA. It was actually to Pecan Island, where even the locals said, “it was the end of the earth." We were there to help with Hurricane Rita rebuilding. I asked the woman whose house we were working on why she would stay in this hurricane ravaged area (this was the 3rd or 4th time they had lived in a FEMA trailer), and she said very simply, “Because it is my home, and this is where I grew up, where my family and friends are.” I could see on her face she wasn’t enjoying the six or so inches of mud we cleaned out of the entire house, but I also saw gratitude for their safety, a roof over their head, our help, and a place to call home.
Certainly in this time where so many have suffered floods, hurricanes, wildfires, and unthinkable mass shootings surely there is no thankfulness in that. Except for gratitude for the amazing acts of heroism, the incredible bonds built through tragedy, the kindness of strangers, and the idea that humanity returns to giving and not taking, or holding on to. We all continue to hope none of these things happen again, but two things I leave you with to remember about thankfulness are express it – don’t miss the chance to tell someone you are grateful, and find it even in times of trial – that is when you know true thankfulness.