I’VE BEEN HAVING a hard time getting to thankful this year.
I get depressed whenever I think about the state of our nation, the anger and animosity that have welled over from politics into our personal relationships, rendering so many topics off limits lest we get into bitter arguments with our friends.
I’ve taken on way too many obligations in my personal life, and they’re all coming due at once, and the worst is still to come. And work never slows down. And I’m a month behind on sleep, and I’ve had this crick in my neck for more than a month now, and I broke my pinky toe.
And in three days, I’m supposed to spend an entire day giving thanks.
Stop. Breathe. Pray.
Let us give thanks to God our Father for all his gifts so freely bestowed upon us. For the beauty and wonder of your creation, in earth and sky and sea. We thank you, Lord.
Sunsets. Sunrises. The fog in the early morning. The golds and oranges and greens and browns of the autumn trees. The seascape that extends into eternity. Baby kitties.
For all that is gracious in the lives of men and women, revealing the image of Christ, We thank you, Lord.
How many people do I encounter every day who are kind and giving, who greet me with a smile no matter how bad they feel, who offer a word of encouragement when I need it, who are always there to help?
For our daily food and drink, our homes and families, and our friends, We thank you, Lord.
How many people in the world are starving, have no home to call their own, have lost their families and friends to war or terrorism or evil governments? My problems are so insignificant.
For minds to think, and hearts to love, and hands to serve, We thank you, Lord.
I don’t spend nearly as much of my time loving and serving as I should. But I am capable of both — and must do both more. I am blessed to be able to spend a lot of time thinking. And most of the time, that is extremely gratifying.
For health and strength to work, and leisure to rest and play, We thank you, Lord.
I’m overwhelmed by the work I have to do, but I do have work to do. Work that I love to do, that gives me great satisfaction and purpose. I don’t have as much time as I’d like for leisure, but I have no physical impairments that prevent me from using what I have. And I sleep. Well. So many people do not.
For the brave and courageous, who are patient in suffering and faithful in adversity, We thank you, Lord.
For all valiant seekers after truth, liberty, and justice, We thank you, Lord.
We are at such an ugly place in this country. Those on the left are outraged, horrified, even terrified, by the president. Those on the right are insulted, enraged and hurting from the giant chip they’re lugging around on their shoulder over the condescension of the left.
Perhaps instead of focusing on their rage, those on the left should be thankful that our brilliant system of checks and balances is working. No, it’s not stopping conservative policy changes; when your side loses an election, the other side gets to implement the policies it favors. But our system of government — through the courts and through the Congress — is stopping the violations of our Constitution and the knee-jerk, populist, impulse-driven actions that reasonable people of any political persuasion reasonably fear.
Perhaps instead of focusing on their rage, those on the right should be thankful for the fact that … they won. Yes, many on the left are condescending. And smug. And arrogant. But they’re in the minority. The minority party might be able to stop some of the changes that the majority wants, but not all of them. And it can’t create any changes of its own.
I’m not sure what to offer for those of us who don’t pledge our allegiance to either the left or the right, which is why thinking about this leaves me depressed. But, well, yes, there still are federal leaders who are willing to work together toward compromise and accommodation and reasonable policies that neither the extremists on the right nor the extremists on the left can stand.
There are even more such leaders at the state level — right here in South Carolina — and at the local level. And short of some national or international cataclysm, the work that our state and local leaders do has a much more significant effect on our daily lives than the work done, or not done, in Washington.
And most importantly, we have all those other gifts, those gifts that have absolutely nothing to do with politics, that God has so freely bestowed upon us.
For the communion of saints, in all times and places, We thank you, Lord.
Above all, we give you thanks for the great mercies and promises given to us in Christ Jesus our Lord; To him be praise and glory, with you, O Father, and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen.
Ms. Scoppe writes editorials and columns for The State. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter or like her on Facebook @CindiScoppe. The Litany of Thanksgiving can be found in The Book of Common Prayer.