They say you hear everyone all the time and have an amazing memory, so I’m sure you remember the German mystic Meister Eckhart who lived back in the thirteenth century who said that if the only prayer you ever pray is “thanks,” it’s enough of a prayer.
But in your omniscience you also know that people at prayer can be verbose around Thanksgiving and bring to mind a litany of lovely things which have come their way.
So let me think.
I think of the wind in the poplar trees, the rain on the roof, the geese in the park, the hawks in the sky, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and the PVR which lets me watch it during then day when I’m more awake.
I think of architects and artists and all those who have talents I don’t, but who enrich me with theirs.
I think of the loon whose haunting cry pierces the core of what it feels like to be Canadian and whose presence is a constant reminder of the delicate balance of nature that we are toying with foolishly. I think of my heroes who don’t know me but have unknowingly influenced me.
And I think of my friends who do know me and still want to be my friend.
I think of corn on the cob, grilled salmon, key lime pie, new red potatoes and black coffee, fair trade of course.
I think of my kids and the chance I have in retirement to give them some of the time they didn’t get from me when I was a full-time minister.
I think of my grandson who is, as you know, the most beautiful grandson ever. I’m thankful that I have the wits and the time to think thoughts and be able to express them in language.
And I’m thankful that people take a moment each week to read them even if they strongly disagree with me and email to let me know where I’ll be spending eternity.
But this year, Holy One, I’m also thinking of things I didn’t get in the last twelve months.
I didn’t get a call in the night telling me someone had died. I didn’t get really sick last year. (There was that toothache but that’s why you made endodontist right?)
I didn’t have to live though a tsunami or tornado or typhoon.
I’m thankful that whenever I was barreling down a two-lane highway, the drivers coming the other way didn’t stray into my lane.
I’m thankful that when I was running on the edge of the road, drivers managed to avoid me. I’m thankful that when I made my mistakes, few noticed.
I’m thankful for all those good days that outnumbered the awful days because God knows that it only takes one thoughtless moment, one misstep, to turn a day upside down and usher misery into the mundane.
While there is still stuff on my plate, there’s a lot that’s not on my plate.
And for all that isn’t there; all that didn’t happen last year but could have happened; I’m eternally grateful.
Rev. Bob Ripley, author and syndicated columnist, is the retired senior minister of Metropolitan United Church in London, Ont.