Tuesday, November 20, 2007
There is something about the feeling of gratitude that chases out all the others. You can’t feel fear when you are thankful. You don’t feel angry, or sad, or depressed when you are truly filled with appreciation.
Gratitude may well be one of God’s greatest antidotes to those destructive emotions. We all know that resentment and bitterness and the desire for retribution all feel so satisfying for the moment. So justified. And yet, all of them have the power to destroy – inside out.
So I come to the end of the week with a new sense of thanksgiving. We’ve been given such good gifts. It’s important to dwell on the memory and the meaning of those gifts; long enough for appreciation to do its good work.
I’m looking forward to this year’s celebration. We’ll be in the mountains with some of our favorite people. My brother and his wife have opened the door to their new mountain place. The table will be filled with appetizing abundance.
The guest who will bring the greatest sense of joyful celebration will be Bear the Marine (as we call him) who has just finished his first tour of duty in the dangerous streets of a small village in Iraq. Barrett (my nephew) returns as a hero to the family… but he’s not at all comfortable with the label. He’s doing his duty. He’s dealing with the stuff of war. He’s bonded with his band of brothers. He’s learned a whole new language that includes faith and loyalty and preparedness and training and discipline. We get to hug him and high five him and when we pray on Thanksgiving Day, we’ll thank God that he is home and whole. And we’ll pray harder than ever for the families who can’t say the same on this blessed holiday.
Then there are those grandchildren. They light up when we appear at the door way or they appear at ours. We’ll see four of the five. We’ll take a mountain hike – slow enough for them to discover and explore. We’ll long for the fifth; who will celebrate well on the other end of the continent. By Valentines Day 2008, if all goes well, there will be two more. They bring us inexpressible joy.
Then there was the three days with Bill Butterworth last week and along with nine other aspiring speakers who grew under his scrutiny and tutelage at the Hyatt in Irvine. And before that the weekend up in Vancouver, BC with the head of a powerful ministry (Carson Pue, Arrow Leadership) to some of the best and brightest emerging leaders all poised to take us into the next generation. And the reunion with my old friend, Doug who along with his wife Merri lead a growing church in the same town; and my niece and her police officer husband dropping roots along the Sound in the Pacific Northwest with a little boy and his curly hair.
Just yesterday, sitting beside a lake called Sabrina above eight thousand feet of elevation with Carolyn on a big boulder we named “Inspiration Rock,” we laughed and cried and held each other as we asked God, in the shadow of a mighty and jagged peak, under a deep blue sky in a gentle high mountain breeze with a creek splashing water nearby on its way down the hill and into the blue waters below, we asked God to guide us through this current passage in our lives; just like we have through all our years together. We are learning to trust him.
And we laughed, remembering the walk around this same lake when our three were barely in elementary school and we wondered where the years went and how we could be so blessed.
Gratitude. It’s soul food.
It’s Tuesday morning. You are a leader this Thanksgiving week.
How ‘bout you?
Kenneth E Kemp, Copyright November 2007