Incomprehensible thanks

My heart is full.  So thank you.

Those of you who serve our country, thank you.

If you have served and gone to school on the G. I. Bill, then you join generations building an incomprehensibly astonishing country, complete with shortcomings the whole world can see.  Please continue building.

If you returned broken, marred, missing parts of body or soul, then you join a long line bleeding in blues, khaki, and camo: striving to rebuild bodies, minds and lives in countless re-enactments of America’s miracle.  Please don’t give up rebuilding.

If you’re eating turkey, or an MRE, or you’re quietly hungry again tonight, then fall in.  Queues of hungry men and women reach back to Valley Forge’s freezer, doing the impossible in Inchon or sweltering in malarial silence.  Please don’t shirk attempting the impossible with your wearied best.

And if you’re quiet in flag-draped box, ferried home by those who cannot flinch at your final high cost paid.  Come take a place with the mighty and abased, heroes with names on small white crosses and stars in quiet, landscaped hills.  Hallowed by you ransoming my dream.

No less so, Christ lovers, who were not surprised when those fearing your faith ushered you horrifically into eternity.  You, did John certainly see in his Revelation, crying to God at justice delayed to the last chance for those martyring you to come to His grace.

Incomprehensible. Price.  Possibility.

If you served my country or Lord, thank you.  May my courage in these dearly bought days, address my debt to you at a Banquet to which we’ve been invited on death’s other shore.

Wealth

I’ve flown to Norfolk to perform a wedding for Rachel Reon and Aaron White.  I’m staying at the Hampton in Smithfield and am amazed, again, to drive through towns that smack of history in both the Revolutionary War and Civil War, and that almost all hearken back to England for their original naming.

Don’t miss the five to ten ways I am wealthy in that first paragraph.

This afternoon at two o’clock I walked into the Trinity Methodist sanctuary with Aaron and his best men to watch Rachel and her best girls walk down the aisle.  No bombs.  No sirens.  No flack jackets.  A dress she will hopefully only wear once.  Tuxes.  Flowers.  Food at the reception.  Small jazz group playing at the reception.  People travelling from around the country.  No one detained.  People smiling in photos.  No one imprisoned.  People getting to know strangers.  No one shot.  Multiple ethnic groups sitting together and enjoying each other.

Don’t miss the twenty or so ways we were wealthy in that paragraph when insanity erupted 141 miles away in Charlotesville.

And Rachel, whose parents, and grandparents have all remained married, stood looking up into the intently focused eyes of her Aaron making his promises in front of his parents and grandparents who have all remained faithful and married — and she felt blessed.  In ways she can barely comprehend.  She will return to Illinois to finish her Masters and Aaron will find employment there, and they will pursue God’s will and their careers and family — unbelievably fortunate and blessed.

And we, as Americans must all become more intentional in how we say thanks, in how we become stewards of the astonishing gifts raining down on us.

It was humid outside the church as we exited, and I almost complained as the rain began before Mark and I could get to the car.  I winced.  How quickly I brandish a whine rather than a “hallelujah” in my days.

Sometimes wealth dulls my senses, rather than sharpens my awareness of the otherness, of the other-worldliness of the blessings cascading around me.  That makes me the pauper sitting at the feast, seething at what else I want, rather than kicking back and rejoicing with those around me.

I know.  Silly.

Is. Not just ‘was’. Not ‘would have been’.

We betray our inmost thoughts, our truest beliefs sometimes to no one but ourselves, and we do so in the “trailers” those tiny tangents of thought trailing the Big thought(s).

I awoke in the night editing a thought from a few days ago.  I know, we all have things we wish we had said better, responded funnier, been more clever.

This was just a thought I thought while I walked our back fence, actually where a back fence will go when I finally put one in.  I thought about Nana’s funeral, and all the attention was focused on her.  She was in every slide in the slide show.  John Bugg and I talked about her first.  Doug and Karin’s reflection were tender and funny, but focused on Barbara K. Johnson unerringly.  The music was her music.  The packed out place was filled with people who were all there because she touched our lives.  The memory cards, every flower, every memorial was all because of her, and I laughed to think, “She would have been so embarrassed!”

“Would have been” because we were all feeling her absence.  She would have been mortified at people weeping because she was not there.  She would have cringed at every picture, and at her being the center of every story — she took most of the pictures and had to be dragged into any of them.  She told every story about those she cherished or worried over, most often the same thing.

I awoke in the night to edit, “Would have been” to “was”.  As believers in the resurrection of Christ, she had been promoted from worrier and intercessor to the cheering section in Heaven.  (The twelfth chapter of the Letter to the Hebrews in the Bible opens with that verse).  Since I believe that, I should have laughed because she WAS EMBARRASSED, from her new seat in the cheering section.

And I laughed all over again in bed in the middle of the night.  Then I awoke to blog this, and my wife, Jill, Nana’s daughter awoke with an ache, missing her mom, and had received the DVD of her memorial service, and was playing the celebration of her passing as I had begun blogging.

Funny isn’t it?  How married people have the same thoughts without talking.  It has been four months, and she IS delighted to see us living out the truest things we know, while failing them, but failing forward.

Is, not was, or would have been.  She is embarrassed that this blog celebrates her life.

Thaksgiving and Platitudes

What does it mean to be “thankful”? 

I know, it means having a distended stomach, and wondering if you will live until leftover sandwiches!  Watching TV and playing like all the people in the house are not getting on your last nerve.

The truly simple and strangely absent definition is that “thankful” means what we do tomorrow. 

Some people will return to risking everything they have to build a new business.  Some will turn and continue to invest their fifth, twenty-sixth year or more into their marriage and family.  Some will go back on patrol of our borders or in other countries.  Many will go back to work in stores, hospitals, police and fire stations, governmental offices doing jobs we really don’t want to know about. 

Thanksgiving and thankful go way beyond any specific emotion, ultimately to some form of courage or grit where I return to life, roll up our sleeves, and do what needs to be done, that has fallen to me.  Glorious or mundane, courageous or grinding, I do what falls to me to do. 

However tired, full, joyous, or achingly empty, it shows us all how ‘thankful’ you are and for what, really.