Saturday, November 18, 2017

Gratefully unaware

The guy finished his workout at the gym and grabbed a handful of free mini Tootsie Roll candies from the bucket at the front desk. As I zipped up my jacket, I laughed and said to the manager, "He's a slim guy; he can get away with that."

Resisting the sweets, I briskly walked toward the door and caught up with the guy munching the candies. "You're lucky to be slim; you can eat those things and not pay for it," I said.

He nodded and replied, "It's a great burst of energy after a workout."

"I'll bet you've always been slim," I guessed.

"Yeah, I'm blessed to have good genes from my parents and good health," he revealed. "Have a blessed evening."

A few minutes earlier I was wrapping up my workout on the exercise bike when a buff young guy with a Navy tank top walked by. "Gonna watch the Navy-Notre Dame game tomorrow?" I asked.

"Probably, but I'm really a soccer fan," he replied.

"My older brother went to the Naval Academy a long time ago," I shared. "He served 30 years after graduating."

That sparked our brief conversation, which revealed the young sailor's name was Nick, and he'd served five years in the U.S. Navy as an electrician's mate. Upon discharge, Nick finished his Bachelor's degree and then earned a Master's in the Humanities. Now Nick's an assistant paralegal with a Chicago law firm and in the Navy Reserves. Soon he'll be headed to Belgium for a month of service with NATO troops.

"At twenty, I had to write my will," he shared. "When you enlist, they make you list all your beneficiaries."

Coincidentally, my best friend has a son named Nick and this summer he reported for the U.S. Army after graduating college. He's hoping to serve in the special forces. His parents are praying for his health and safety. They're proud of him but genuinely concerned about his eventual deployment. This week, his father will travel from Dallas to Detroit for Thanksgiving to visit Nick's elderly grandmother who recently fell and seriously broke her arm.

My older brother, John, will also be traveling to Detroit from Baltimore for the holiday to visit our 89-year-old mother, who used to worry and pray for my big brother's protection all those years when he captained ships at sea.

Thanksgiving will bring many families and friends together to celebrate annual traditions, overeat, maybe watch some football and hopefully say a few prayers of thanks.

But true gratitude is a daily awareness of our vulnerability and an understanding that no one owes us the next beat of our hearts. But we owe a debt of humility and gratitude for the food on our tables, the peace of mind and protection we enjoy in our homes, the breath in our lungs and the sight to read and write what we choose.

There is a quiet rhythm to life that most of us take for granted, obliviously moving from moment to hour, encounter to conversation, thought to day dream, and desire to satisfaction. The seemingly random events align to fulfill needs and sometimes even delight us. Never failing what we are promised. Which is nothing more than the present. Yet, many of us who have been seriously ill, injured or damaged fail to remember to say thank you for our healing, our recovery, our resurrection.

What blessings are you most grateful for today?

Wishing you and yours a happy and heartfelt Thanksgiving!

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