The Mighty Viking

Conquering those things we must, one story at a time

Relative Gratitude

A few hundred years ago, a small band of immigrants took the time to observe and record a moment of reflection. Their main theme? Thanksgiving, in the vernacular of their creed. Being grateful for what they had at the time was the first thing of importance to them that day.

And what, really, did they have? They had illness – not just a spate of common colds, but the kind of disease that kills – and in fact had already killed some of them. They had provisions, in part due to the hospitality of locals. They were not far removed from a dangerous and difficult sea voyage in an age when sea voyages were not guarantees of passage. They had a patch of raw land, which they had managed to eke out some rudimentary shelter. And winter was coming.

And yet, in their precarious condition, neophytes to a land of raw survival, a formal moment to give thanks for what they DID have occupied their thoughts. They took some time probably needed for winter preparation to speak of and to their God, from whom they drew courage and faith in a harsh environment.

This last couple months, our family has had much to fret about, hoping against common wisdom that Sean will pull through his recent health problems. Life always has something to worry about, but somehow the security of life itself seems to have a way of pushing to the forefront.

But when I think of the hardship under which the first Thanksgiving was born, modern problems seem minute, almost trivial. Their response – to create a Day of Gratitude – makes me ashamed almost of my anxieties.

Oh, and one more thing: it wasn’t something these settlers normally did. It WAS something the Wampanoag natives normally did after a successful hunt. It was they who taught the immigrants their ways of giving thanks to a higher power.

Our family is grateful, among other things, for the slow but encouraging recovery Sean is showing. We are grateful for each other’s love and support. We are grateful for each other’s presence together tomorrow.

I wish for all of you the love of another human. Be it a mate, a child or parent, be it a close friend or even as simple as a friendly neighbor – if there is but one thing we are given, it is Someone: somewhere, in some way. We are given Someone.

And if our Creator has done but this one thing for us, in whatever tradition you believe, we have these we love, and by whom we are loved. Celebrate the gift. Let yourself be celebrated.

And thank your God for them.

 

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One Response to “Relative Gratitude”

  1. bodieP says:

    You and I have both arrived at much the same place this holiday–a spirit gratitude not in the midst of everything being right, but in the midst of adversity. Things have been hard at our house, though not in the soul-searing way a child’s illness is hard. And yet this week I’ve found myself grateful not for all the “fixes,” but for the people who have provided shelter in stormy times, and life rafts when the storms got beyond the “shelter” stage. Perhaps we know gratitude best not in perfection, but in the fractured moments where those gleams of hope and love become so very, very precious.

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