Keeping Gratitude And Generosity In The New Year
During the coming year, there are two themes that should be uppermost in our mind— gratitude as celebrated on the feast of Thanksgiving and generosity as celebrated on the feast of Christmas.
Concerning gratitude, let me give you an example. Many years go I conducted a retreat in a school in North Hampton, Massachusetts, where the entire student body was either blind, deaf or dumb. The school was founded by Grace Coolidge, the wife of a former president of our country. It was amazing and inspiration for me to see these young people, blind from birth, inching their way along the campus grounds with the aid of a seeing eye dog. It was amazing to me to have young people, deprived of the gift of hearing, studiously reading your lips to take part in the lecture. It was quite an experience to see young people, deprived of the gift of speech, trying to convey their thoughts with limited use of sign language.
From that day on I have wondered about my own life and the life of others and how quickly we take for granted the ordinary gifts of sight and speech and hearing when we can look around and see others deprived of those same gifts.
You know if you go back many years ago, there was a little Thanksgiving poem that went something like this:
There was a time when faith began to slip,
when I had lost all that I could afford to lose,
I had no home, no food, no shoes,
and suddenly I chanced to meet upon the busy highway of life a man who had no feet."
I complained because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet is a reminder of the generosity of God towards us. Whenever we see a sunrise or a sun set, that is a sign of the generosity of God. Whenever we have healthy children that is a sign of the generosity of God. Whenever you have a happy home life that is a sign of the generosity of God.
One of the best ways of keeping the spirit of gratitude and the spirit of Christmas alive is by showing our sensitivity to those with whom we live and work. I produced a television Mass on Channel 9 for over 20 years and year after year we would get hundreds of letters from adults who found the Christmas holiday very hard to take. The families were dysfunctional, the family scene was argumentative, the family pleasantries no longer existed. Christmas should remind each person in every family of the generosity that God has given to you in your family and the gratitude that you should express. There is no question about it, we can read about the terrible life existence in Haiti. A few weeks ago I was talking to three Jesuits priests who have spent about 20 years in Haiti and they will tell you of the miserable conditions, the land of corruption, a land of violence, a land of gangsters. The role of these Jesuits is to try to spread food stuff to those families who live from one meal to the next. We are blessed and the way we show our appreciation for what we have is by extending your generosity to others.
This coming year, all of us should sit down to thank God for His generosity. We live in a privileged country.
This month, as we enter into the New Year, I would ask you to reach out not just to your own families, but to the servicemen who are defending our country in Afghanistan and Iraq where so many have lost their lives so that we may enjoy our freedom.
There is a beautiful tribute to the American soldier by Charles Province. It is something we should keep in our minds.
It is the Soldier, not the minister Who has given us freedom of religion.
It is the Soldier, not the reporter Who has given us freedom of the press.
It is the Soldier, not the poet Who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the Soldier, not the campus organizer Who has given us freedom to protest.
It is the Soldier, not the lawyer Who has given us the right to a fair trial.
It is the Soldier, not the politician Who has given us the right to vote.
It is the Soldier who salutes the flag, Who serves beneath the flag, And whose coffin is draped by the flag,
Who allows the protester to burn the flag.
As we enter into the spirit of gratitude and generosity, all of us should take the time to thank God for those who are defending us so that we can have beautiful holidays.
It is the Soldier Reprinted with permission. For more information on Charles M. Province, please visit www.pattonhq.com