Tuesday, November 24, 2020

A Story of Gratitude . And Forgiveness

A Story of Gratitude. And Forgiveness


We often speak words of thanksgiving this time of year. Even those who seldom make those sort of remarks sit at the table with loved ones and friends and voice something for which they are thankful. Many of those are words of gratitude for a big Thanksgiving dinner. I realize some of that may take place virtually this year. But we are people of tradition. Traditions bring us as much comfort as turkey and dressing. 


So this week I want to share a story of gratitude. 


My maternal grandmother lived a hard life. By anyone’s standards. Both of her parents died when she was young, leaving her, along with her brothers and sisters to fend for themselves. An uncle was supposed to care for them, but he didn’t.


At my grandmother’s funeral a man told me a story his own father told him. The neighbors—we’re talking farms here with neighbors often living miles away—took turns checking in on the orphaned children. Early one morning, this man’s father decided to travel over the mountain on his way home so he could check on the young ones living alone. 


The children were standing at the fence. His greeting was met with fingers to the lips and a plea to “Shhh…” Slowly he approached. “We have to be quiet. We’re waiting for the chicken to lay an egg so we can have breakfast,” one of the youngsters explained. 


I am thankful I have food. I’ve never gone hungry.


And no one. Not. One. Person. Ever left my grandparents house hungry. Not One. I’m not sure how my grandmother did it, but if a crowd of unexpected guests arrived on her doorstep, she could seemingly throw another potato in the pot and make enough for everyone. With leftovers.


Grandma’s secret ingredient? A heart filled with both gratitude and forgiveness.

Ophia Bingham Woolum
My Grandmother

 Grandma had a tough life, but she forgave her uncle for the injustices he exacted on the family. She praised God for all the ways He protected her and her siblings. She was a "silver lining" kind of woman. 


She was appreciative for the simplest of things. Things I often take for granted. For that reason, though I will cook a meal and share it with my mother, I will not mourn the fact I am not with my children and grandchildren. I will praise God for what I do have: my mom, good food, and a God who meets my every need.


So what is next? 

The pandemic has not only claimed lives of many, it has disrupted the income and food distribution of millions. One in four children in the United States will go to bed hungry on Thanksgiving Day. As they do every day. One in four. That is a staggering statistic. I’m packing bags of canned goods, rice, and dried beans I have in my pantry and dropping them off at a local food bank.


What can you do? Cook a meal and take to someone? Donate funds to the Food Store or an organization providing meals? Last year I was able to pack food as a volunteer. COVID-19 makes that impossible this year. But we can find ways. We need only to look.


“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. 


Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’


The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of he least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’”  Matthew 25:35-40



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