Tuesday, November 24, 2020

A Time For Thanks

 It has been a while – too long a while – since I posted an essay on this spiritual blog. Like many others, my attention this year has been on the many difficult social/ political/health events occurring all around me, threatening many things that I hold dear and special. It has been an exhausting and emotionally draining time. Now, as some of these currents began to slowly ebb, it is a time to begin to restore and rebalance ourselves for what lies ahead, even as that “ahead” may continue to be vague and ill-defined. We have much work to do in order to heal the pains and divisions that have so consumed our society these past several years, a task that can seem overwhelming. But we must try. We must re-find our sense of confidence, our trust in one another, our belief in our spiritual drive towards “betterment” and “can do” that has always driven us. Perhaps, in spite of the many negative feelings we may have accumulated of late, a new beginning can start with recognizing and expressing our thanks to some of those people – our neighbors – who have voluntarily stepped up to the plate at a time when most needed.

So we give thanks to the health care workers, working overtime on the front lines of a seemingly unstoppable killer virus, fighting to save the sick and afflicted. In hospitals, make-shift medical tents, nursing homes, manning long lines at drive-through testing centers. Doctors, nurses, maintenance and support staff, EMT/emergency personnel, working together with too often inadequate supports from government and industry. Constantly facing too large a swath of the public that disavows the danger (“a hoax”) of Covid-19 and flagrantly refuses to cooperate with preventive measures – until they wind up in the care of those exhausted health workers. Health workers burnt out from having turned the switch on life-sustaining machinery to “OFF” too many times, working among the over-extended, often make-shift ICU beds. We thank them.

So we give thanks to the families of the sick, separated from their loved ones, unable to hold their hands or say words of comfort to them as their breaths of life slide slowly away. Loved ones taken too soon, too unexpectedly. Leaving behind torn and devastated families searching for some understandable reason that they can wrap their arms around – all the while working to hold the family together as it moves forward to its new future. We thank those families for their examples of resilience and courage.

So we give thanks to the parents of all our young children as they try to adapt their lives – and their children’s lives – to a constantly changing environment. Schools open / semi-open / closed / doing remote learning. Parents providing ad hoc make-shift home care, while trying to maintain careers and/or functioning in new “home workplaces.” We thank these parents as they endure the many strains of parenthood within love, each day finding new ways to “figure it out,” within circumstances never envisioned.

So we give thanks to teachers and educational staff who are continually adapting to new programs, new rules, new methodologies, new schedules for teaching America’s children – children who are also part of the “teachers’ children.” The commitment of these teachers to support their students – both intellectually and emotionally – through their extraordinary efforts represents the best of their profession. We thank these teachers for their devotion to the littlest among us.

So we give thanks to those who may be threatened with, or are currently, out of work, and the owners of small businesses unable to stay open. They are our neighbors who spend each day in worry as they make constant decisions about where the food will come from, how needed medical care will be obtained, whether they may become homeless. And on the behalf those people, we give thanks for the many volunteers manning the food banks and thrift stores, and people raising funds or creating special programs of support. We thank those people donating money or goods to help these many others in need.

So we give thanks to the many election staff and volunteer poll workers who showed up to ensure that our democracy held together in spite of the health crisis. To accommodate record-setting voter numbers, processes were created ad hoc as needed. In spite of threats of violence at the polls, and overt political pressures and attempted anti-voting antics by those who should know better, there was no violence. There was no fraud. There were just people committed to exercising their right to vote and run their own country. We thank both voters and poll workers.

So we give thanks to those public officials and government service workers who, in a time when public responsibility and the Constitutional rule of law have teetered on the brink of collapse, have stood up and reasserted their oath of office. We recognize that, for many, such “standing up” has been injurious to their financial well-being and/or reputation. We thank them for their courage to act nonetheless, and for thereby inspiring us to act accordingly.

So we give thanks to the genuine “essential workers,” those many often-invisible people whose work allows the rest of us to do what we do, to live the life of “new normalcy” that we are experiencing. The farmers, grocery workers, food workers, sanitation workers, gas station providers, bank/ATM personnel, pharmacists, home repairers, and countless under-appreciated others who are keeping our society running while we sort this all out. We thank them all for their unheralded contributions.

Certainly we feel these desperate times all too acutely, tired and frustrated by its seeming insolvability and interminableness. But at this year’s Thanksgiving dinner table, regardless of the empty chairs and smaller numbers, we would do well to remember and acknowledge those to whom our thanks are due. Those original Pilgrims feasted not because times were great. They feasted because they had faced hardship and had come through it, scathed but survived. Having faith in each other, and the confidence in the always inevitable greatest good, we will do the same.

As has been said, the sun is a ways shining, even when it hides behind the clouds.  It is on us to have the steadiness and patience to wait for our time when the clouds will inevitably clear.

©   2020   Randy Bell             https://OurSpiritualWay.blogspot.com