Today I give thanks to God for He is good; His mercy endures forever.
On a day that is 47 degrees with 94% precipitation(means it’s raining a whole bunch), I am thankful to be inside. I am thankful to have woken in a warm bed under a solid roof, taken a hot shower, dressed in a heated house. I am thankful that tonight, after festivities, I will return to my warm and comfortable haven.
I’m thankful to not live in a tent.
I’m thankful for the sumptuous breakfast prepared by one set of friends, the lunch prepared by my wife, and the dinner that is likely to be excessively large that is being prepared by other friends.
I’m thankful that hunger, real bone shaking, dizzying hunger is quite a foreign experience to me.
I’m thankful that I woke up next to a wife, and that shortly after a son came in and cuddled with us. I’m thankful that over the course of the day, I will see two of my closest friends and their wives, and a third friendly acquaintance today.
I’m thankful that my relationships are not broken, that I am not alienated from friends or community, and that I am not alone on a holiday.
I am thankful not to experience crippling social anxiety.
I’m thankful for the quick FaceTime chat with my parents, that they wanted to see me, and that I wanted to see them.
I’m thankful for clean, comfy and stylish clothes. I’m thankful for my own car.
I’m thankful that I have the legitimate choice about whether or not to drink alcohol or not tonight, whether or not to drink in moderation, and that I have the internal and external support to carry out this decision. I’m thankful that drugs and alcohol have not ravaged my life.
I am saturated with goodness.
Meanwhile, there are those who have nothing.
Some of them not so far off. They have been clients in my office. Holding signs at the turnoff to my house. Panhandling across the street from my coffeeshop. Inhabiting the tent city down the street from my library.
There are those who have nothing.
Men, women, old and young, able and disabled, who have no one, who want no one, who fear everyone, yet who are desperately, severely lonely.
These are the men and women who have sat in my counseling office. They are not so far away. Their lives have turned out differently, but they themselves are not so different from me.
Why do I have do much while others have so little?
This disparity is maddening.
Recently I’ve written several posts about privilege, systemic patterns that favor certain types of people over others. Somehow what I’m feeling today feels bigger. Deeper. Worser. This disparity has something to do with privilege, and much more to do with mental illness, with money and economics, with relationships, with trauma, with addiction, with legal standing.
Why this disparity? How am I so completely enveloped with comfort, security, opportunity and companionship while others in such close proximity to me are daily deprived of even their basic needs?
This is maddening.
The challenge I give myself is to grow in awareness, and deepen in compassion. I invite others who are as privilege saturated as me to do the same. We will help no one by remaining oblivious to the needs around us. Nor will we help anyone by hating ourselves or our prosperity.
Our challenge is to grow in awareness of the world around us, the needs nearby us, the lives intertwining close by. Our challenge is is be aware of our own selves, all the choices we make that impact us and our world. Our challenge is to grow in awareness of our gifts and resources, then to learn ways to invest those back into the disparity.
If we want to be a great people, we ought to become more self-aware, more socially aware, and more generous.
We must remain humble, recognizing that we live and toil and die before the God who owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and without Whom we would have nothing, be nothing.
Let us cultivate in ourselves gratitude for what we have, and from that gratitude let grow great compassion and generosity.