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Take time to give thanks for your blessings

Another year is winding down as we enter the fourth week of November and will celebrate Thanksgiving this Thursday. I suppose there’s a lot; no, I know there’s a lot to be thankful for this year, as years past, and I hope to use this week’s offering to convey that.

I am thankful for a roof, four walls, warmth and food in my belly. I say that as the growing homeless problem in our country, and in particular our little corner in Harlan County becomes more prevalent and noticeable. When I go to work early in the mornings and on third shifts when I come home around that time you can see the signs. Heck, you can even see it sometimes in the middle of the day. I am thankful I am not in their condition and I pray for guidance in how to deal and for me to be as compassionate as I am judgmental.

I am thankful to be working, doing a job I enjoy and feel matters somewhat. The economy all over the nation and our commonwealth seems to be booming. Record numbers of people are employed. Unemployment is at a record low in many categories. The stock market has grown phenomenally the last few years and people have made vast fortunes with the market. Domestic production of oil is up. Manufacturing is making a recovery, and jobs are plentiful in plenty of places.

All of that seems to have had minimal effect in Harlan County. Things here keep plugging along, but the robust economy and recovery much of America has enjoyed has not been as robust here. Through it all, though, I know those who have work are thankful. Those who lost jobs this year, like the Blackjewel miners, are waiting things out, moved on to another career or perhaps moved away in hopes of a better outlook and future. I am sure that in whatever situation that they, or any of us find ourselves, though we may bemoan the difficulties we are thankful it isn’t worse.

I am thankful to have a remote control. It has come in handy with the impeachment farce that has been ruling the airwaves lately. I am thankful that President Trump has come through it so far unscathed from this coup attempt.

I am thankful for family and friends. As the poet and Anglican clergyman John Donne said in his famous ‘Meditation 17’; that no man is an island unto himself. In what is perhaps his most famous work Donne cautions against isolationism, extols the virtues of friendship, and demonstrates humanity’s interconnectedness. We know that life is tough, and how much tougher would it would be to wander through this life alone, and I am very thankful for my family and friends who share this journey.

I am thankful to live in a country where one can freely protest, vote to change things, and have general freedom to live and seek out a better life for oneself and family. As I read about and watch the happenings in Hong Kong this is something I hold even more precious. The Chinese government hasn’t yet gone to Tinneman Square lengths to stifle dissent, but things do grow more perilous by the day in Hong Kong. The pro-democracy protesters do not seem to be deterred by the might of the Chinese police state as they are using modern techniques as well as ancient weapons like bows and arrows to push back. I thank God for their zeal as much as I am thankful I do not live in a country like theirs. I pray they are able to make effective change as well.

I am thankful for the upcoming feast and I pray for those who will not be able to enjoy it, for whatever reason. I am also thankful for all the people, military, police, fire, ems, dispatchers, nurses, doctors, workers in every industry who have to work on holidays to keep us safe or make things run smoothly.

I am thankful to have lived another year and to have enjoyed all the blessings that came with it. I try to be thankful for all the hardships for what they have taught me and to be called to share in the sufferings (no matter how small) of our Lord.

I am thankful for life, and even the fragility of it. I made a Facebook post this past Sunday asking people what they were thankful for this year even in the midst of adversity and sorrow (I knew of one family burying someone that day and another losing someone that day), and though there were many good answers, one was particularly salient. A friend, who I will keep nameless, remarked on how thankful they were to wake up with their body working. That same friend passed away early this Monday morning, proving life is incredibly fragile. It also demonstrates how we should cherish each and every moment and the people in our lives that make up those moments.

So this Thursday as we enjoy our Thanksgiving feast, remember to give thanks for all our blessings and say a prayer for those with less to be thankful for. And as we finish out the rest of this year and on into next endeavor, be the kind of person that people are thankful for.