I don't know how many of you have noticed, but at this festive season of the year (November, in other words), the whole of the continental United States appears to be divided into two camps - those who approve of the singing of Christmas carols pre-December, and those who do not. I, for one, am a member of the former camp (I have, in fact, been listening to Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas songs since September). The reason, however, is simpler than just Christmas season mania - the trouble is that there simply aren't very many songs to sing for Thanksgiving.
It's a shame, really. It seems that if we are going to sing songs, what songs could possibly be better than those that express our thanks for what we've been given? The fact, however, is that while many hymns express gratitude, few are meant for Thanksgiving - only three or four. Perhaps one day I will write another. For the times being, however, with my lacking talent in partwriting and severely limited time (as this blog attests), I must look to other means to sing the God's praise and give him thanks. Today my song will be to do what I have been trying to do with this blog for over a year now - to look up, and see the hand of God in my every day.
I have a loving and devoted family, and better yet I know that I will be with them beyond this existence and for time and all eternity. As I walked though the airport the other day I saw a family embracing a member who had just arrived from a plane. Their joy made me realize anew just how important it is for us as human beings to be with one another, to have each other close. If I didn't know about the blessing of eternal families, I don't know how I could ever stand to be away from those I love. My family and friends mean more to me than anything in this world. It is a great blessing to know that when I am apart from them, they are watched over and cared for by someone who loves them more than I know - our Father in Heaven. I truly don't know wha tI would do without these loved ones, family and friends alike. They have shaped me into something better than I ever could have made of myself, and have made my days sweeter and more meaningful than anything else could have done. For that I owe them an unending debt of gratitude.
I have a means of being educated. I have discovered that there are few experiences more exhilarating nad delightful than learning. My world expands more and more every day, and I become capable of doing more with every class I take and every book I read. I have heard so many stories about children in other countries crowding into their school rooms, keeping their pencils like they were made of gold and erasing their work from their papers so they can use the same sheets again. Hearing things like that makes me not only want to donate to the church humanitarian fund (which I try to do), but also makes me so very grateful for the schooling and knowledge that are at my fingertips.
I live in a country where I am free to vote, to own property, to worsip how and where I may, and to say if I chose that I think President Obama is a complete idiot (not that I would say that at all) in a public without fearing arrest or chastisement. This is a country sealed with the blood of sacrifice. There is no place on earth that affords greater opportunity to mankind.
I have my church and my God, and the knowledge of their truthfulness and reality. I know that I am a child of a Heavenly Father, who loves me more than words can possibly express, even though I am so often unworthy of that love. I have the chance to return to His presence through the atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ, as do all men who repent and let him into their hearts. I have the scriptures, the restored gospel, modern revelation, living prophets... In a world that cries out for answers, I have found them for myself. They give me hope for a future untainted by war and violence, but encompassed in the love of a just and merciful God. I have no greater blessings than these, and it is one of my greatest desires that I might share them with all the world.
This is my song of Thanksgiving, though it contains not a single note. I would like to add to it the words of the Psalmist, who says it better than I could possibly write:
"Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness: come before His presence with singing. Know ye that the Lord, He is God: it is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His courts with Thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise: be thankful unto Him and bless His name. For the Lord is good, His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endureth to all generations."
I add my amen to those words. The Lord is good. I have been the recipient of his goodness since the day I was born. I could spend every moment of the rest of my life giving my thanks, and every breath that remains in me to sing his praise, and it would be insufficient.
My great great great aunt Louisa Mellor crossed the plains with the handcart pioneers. She and the rest of the Martin handcart company were trapped in the winter snows in Wyoming. She endured great hardship on that journey and through all her days as she helped to settle Utah. Yet despite all her trials, there were two words engraved on her headstone that I echo in my own life every moment of every day:
Praise God and his grace this Thanksgiving Day - we have so much to be thankful for. We are each of us "blessed indeed." Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
'Til next time...