To Give Thanks is to Give Back

Next week, Americans will celebrate our annual day of Thanksgiving.  If we are fortunate enough, we celebrate this holiday with a festive meal alongside family, and perhaps even some friends.

Many of us offer prayers of thanksgiving to the One we deem to be our Creator.  These prayers are appropriate, but we must not forget those who are less fortunate than ourselves.  By this, I mean that our prayers to God are much more likely to be heard and appreciated if they are not simply hollow words of gratitude. Our prayers are words linked to a pledge to ourselveNorman Rockwell Thanksgivings and Him, to do whatever we can to help and touch the lives of those in need.

As wonderful as it may be to set aside one day a year for giving thanks, wouldn’t it be all the more wonderful to take some time every day of our life to take stock of our blessings? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to show that gratitude to God by giving back, whenever possible, some of our time by providing whatever resources we may possess to those in need?

Until the heart has been touched by gratitude, not one of us, I believe, is fully alive. And unless that gratitude becomes a meaningful act of giving back, our gratitude becomes nothing more than meaningless words.

I am but one human who has been blessed with 75 years of life. How many more years, months or days are left for me and you?  I do not and cannot know the answer. I do know that I can take some time every day to become more aware of the blessings that permeate my presence here on earth.

What are these blessings? I offer them to you as but a fraction of the multitude that enrich my life. I hope you may find some that resonate with you.

I am blessed by . . .

  • My ability to love and be loved.
  • The incredible feeling of joy that I have in simply holding my beloved wife’s hand.
  • The unbounded thrill and happiness of being a parent, made all the more wonderful by watching my children become parents.
  • The ever increasing ecstasy of seeing grandchildren enter the world and grow and mature.
  • The deep bonds of love that can grow within extended family.
  • By the human capacity to think and create.
  • By the simple, yet profound gift of laughter.
  • A blue sky with cloud formations that would make any artist weep with envy.
  • My country, with all its difficulties, still striving to be a model for democracy.
  • The unfolding possibility that resides in every moment of our existence.
  • The promise of peace that the final breath of life holds.

For all these and so much more, I rejoice and give thanks for the gift of my life.



4 Responses »

  1. Bill Todd says:

    Thankfully, I just learned about this extraordinary group of Atlanta leaders today through Alvin’s guest column in the AJC. In my civic life in Atlanta I have had the honor of working with all four of these religious giants and have seen the impact of their work.

    Your coming together in this blog group is so very Atlanta in the best tradition. Ivan Allen, Dr. King, and Ralph McGill would be so proud of you, and so am I. Please keep writing and sharing. I am thankful to be a new reader and disciple of the Higher Ground Group.

    Blessings upon you.

    • Alvin says:

      Thank you so much for your kind comments.
      May the blessings of the Season resound for you and all you love.

  2. St. Michael, The archangel, remove all the evil from my life and my daughters. St. Michael bring back my family’s happiness and take all my sorrow and tears away. Please bless me in your prayers and keep my loved ones safe. Bless me and protect me with your divine blessings archangel, help me out for your greater glory. Shine your light. Amen.

  3. Amy, What a horrible shock it was to hear about Michael’s death. I’m so sorry. As I’m sure most people do, I wish I could just take away all of your hurt and sorrow. But that’s not possible and probably not wise anyway. Hurt and sorrow do have a place in life, unfortunately. Since you’ve asked people to share their own stories here I will. I don’t have any words of wisdom but want to share this with you. I know exactly what you mean about the surreal nature of all of this. As you may remember, my Mother died of lung cancer two years ago. It still feels surreal to me. I even am sometimes literally startled by the thought, even after two years. At first I dreamt about her a lot. That was comforting as well as frustrating. I was comforted by other people telling me of their dreams of her. I think that not all of those dreams were simply memories. I truly think God uses our dreams for his purposes. The worst thing I feel now is the jealousy when I hear about other people surviving cancer. It’s terrible, but it’s an honest feeling that I must deal with. My Dad had a heart attack about a week ago and yesterday I was wondering why this 81 year old man was allowed to survive but Michael was not. I’m happy that my Dad is still here, but I just wonder about why things work the way they do. I’d better stop before this becomes Meggan’s therapy session rather than words for you. The biggest thing I have to say about death and my experience with it when my Mother died is that Faith most definitely carried me through. I never ever imagined that it would, as strange as that sounds. I am on the verge of tears and ache inside for you. I can only imagine what you feel yourself. But I remember how strong you are and how much stronger and faith filled you’ve grown throughout the years. God bless you and your kids, most especially Michael and Joseph. I will hold all of you in my prayers.

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