One of the ways I like to celebrate Thanksgiving is by reviewing my blessings. So … time to create my annual gratitude list.
First, I’ve got to be honest. To say this past year has been unsettling would be a huge understatement. The pandemic has upended every familiar activity and routine in my life. Visits with family and friends – cancelled until further notice. Dulcimer group – cancelled until further notice. Choir practice – cancelled until further notice. Stay Fit classes – cancelled until further notice. Groceries – delivered to our home. Church, Bible study, book group and even some doctor appointments – all online.
Then there’s the stress. My husband and I are considered to be in a “high risk” group because of our age and underlying medical conditions, which means we’ve been staying home since March. As the number of COVID-19 cases has skyrocketed in our community this fall, my anxiety level has risen along with the numbers.
And yet I do have plenty to be grateful for this year:
My husband. As usual, Pete tops my gratitude list. If I must be stranded on a desert island (or in my home during a months-long quarantine, which sort of feels like the same thing), I can’t think of a better person to be marooned with than my sweetie pie of 35 years. I love that man to the moon and back!
Our kitties. Oley and Champaign have provided their usual wonderful companionship during this shelter-in-place ordeal. They’re cuddly, entertaining, delightfully ornery and endlessly adorable. They make isolation much more bearable.
Family and friends. Perhaps it’s our increasing awareness of life’s fragility, but it seems like we’ve all made a greater-than-usual effort to stay connected this year, even if we can’t get together in person. I’m not sure God expects me to be grateful for affliction – after all, I’m not a masochist. However, I’m certainly grateful for the people God puts in our lives to help us through the scary stuff.
Our church. Although our building has been closed for all but a few weeks since Lent, our congregation has been able to “attend” church online every Sunday, thanks to a dedicated team of volunteers who quickly learned the technology necessary to make our virtual services happen. We’ve also been able to participate in weekly Bible study and book group meetings via Zoom. And our community service committee has developed several creative ways for us to help people in need in the larger community.
Our spiritual director. For three years, prior to her death this fall, our beloved Sister M helped Pete and me with our spiritual development. She listened to my litany of doubts about everything from denominational dogma to God’s existence itself without negative judgment – at least none that I could detect. She was patient as I grappled with questions some would say I shouldn’t even be asking.
Zoom and FaceTime. These amazing technologies have helped us stay connected with family, friends, our church community and the rest of the outside world in spite of our quarantine. What a gift!
My health. I’ve absolutely stopped taking my health for granted, especially during a year like this one. Because the lockdown has forced us to cook all our meals at home instead of eating out all the time, we are actually eating much healthier these days.
Our home. If we must shelter in place for months on end, at least Pete and I have a beautiful home to do it in. The large eat-in kitchen, the fireplace I sit next to during my morning meditation, a sunroom filled with plants, and the flower beds in my backyard add up to a perfect sanctuary for our little quarantine team.
Financial security. I’m so grateful Pete and I are both retired and have a secure source of retirement income. This means that, unlike so many others, we haven’t had to worry about losing a job or a business during this pandemic. Nor do we have to go to work and risk exposing ourselves to a potentially deadly virus on a daily basis.
Essential workers. Thank God for the people who deliver our groceries, provide our health care and otherwise make sure we all have what we need. These amazing generous people continuously remind me that being able to shelter in place and stay safe is actually a privilege, not something to gripe about.
Being alive. God has granted me another year. While many folks complain about aging (and I must admit I do this myself from time to time), today I choose to be grateful I’ve been able to grow old. Especially after the adventures of the past year.
And last but not least … our scientists. A VACCINE IS COMING!!! This quarantine won’t last forever. There really is an end in sight.
For all of this, God, I thank you.
And so, I resolve to keep reminding myself each day: Today is the day our Creator has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it!
Here’s hoping everyone has a safe and happy Thanksgiving!