Health & Harmony
Health & Harmony
By Dr. Nancy Gahles
In Great And Glorious Thanksgiving
Every year at this time I ask the same question. What are you thankful for this year? The ubiquitous answer is, "My health." Well, naturally, because I am a doctor. The audience is skewed. It was the unexpected answer that came as I was casually preparing dinner and talking about all the things that we are grateful for. My wonderful Polish housekeeper, Bozenna said, "I say thank you, God, when things are good and I say thank you, God, when things are not good. I am always thankful no matter what happens." I was duly humbled by this remark and it gave me great pause to think about this apparent contradiction.
It all became clear to me as I pondered this statement. The harshness of life is mirrored by the joys. It’s all part of the whole. I thought of the Pilgrims who celebrated the first Thanksgiving. They were celebrating the harvest. They were celebrating the reaping of what they had sown in an unknown land. They had experienced many setbacks in their venture to cultivate the land and make a new home for themselves. A home where there would be freedom from tyranny and the right to practice their religion freely. During the long, hard winter, the Pilgrims lost lives of loved ones, suffered financial losses and the attacks of Native Americans who perceived them as the enemy. The situation seemed bleak and yet they persisted. A mutual respect developed between the Native Americans and the Pilgrims as each shared something of their culture with the other and we see them depicted together sharing the bounty of the harvest at the first Thanksgiving.
And so I saw the bigger picture. With trust and faith we understand that everything is happening just as it should and that all will turn out right in the end. This faith is what motivated Bozenna to say "Thank you" when things are not good.
Last week, Fr. David from St. Rose of Lima said something similar. He talked about peace being an understanding that things are happening in their right order. With this understanding, we can always be in a state of inner peace. Living in a state of inner peace generates a state of thankfulness. A state of giving thanks for the fullness of life. The fullness necessarily encompasses the ups and the downs. Acceptance of that coupled with the knowledge that we are always divinely guided and protected generates right action. Right action gives way to praise as the cycle of life reflects this goodness on a higher plane. Richard J. Foster, in his book, "PRAYER, Finding the Heart’s True Home," aptly puts it when he says," To the extent that we can draw a line of demarcation, praise lies on a plane higher than thanksgiving. In his classic work entitled simply PRAYER, Ole Hallesby observes, "When I give thanks, my thoughts still circle about myself to some extent. But in praise my soul ascends to self-forgetting adoration, seeing and praising only the majesty and power of God, His grace and redemption."
This Thanksgiving, I’m taking the long view. I will be thankful for the good times as well as the seemingly bad times understanding that, as Julian of Norwich said, "All will be well." And if my soul can ascend to the level of the Psalmists, I too, will sing praises to the One from whom all good things come."
And it’s all good!
In great and glorious thanksgiving for all of you who have so enriched my life.
May The Blessings Be!