Last evening, at the end of our Canadian Thanksgiving Day, a national news broadcast featured interviews with citizens of two towns that had recently suffered great loss from natural disasters: Goderich in Ontario, which was recovering from a tornado strike, and Slave Lake here in Alberta, which lost nearly one-third of the town to wildfires. The interviewer was asking them about their thoughts on Thanksgiving Day and their responses were very moving.
In every case the respondent was surrounded by family members. Without hesitation they said that they were most thankful for the gift of life and of their families. Even though some of them had lost everything in terms of material goods, they knew in their hearts that, on the level of what truly matters, they had lost nothing. In fact, their appreciation for what is most important, the presence and love of family and friends, had deepened.
On this same day, the news was reporting record sales of the new iPhone. Great excitement! It is so easy to get caught up in what is ultimately unimportant to the neglect of what is always of the greatest importance. I must admit I like the "gadgets" as much as anyone else. (In fact, I'm writing this blog from an iPad.) But what is truly exciting is any opportunity to be together with family and those we love in order just to spend time enjoying one another's company and the unique gift that each person is.
I love to cite the following from Pope Benedict's first homily as our Holy Father: "We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary." Have you ever thought of yourself as a result of a thought of God? You are! Thank God for the gift of being alive. Have you looked upon others as precious in the eyes of God, willed and loved, persons who count and matter? They are! Thank God for them, especially for the gift of their presence in your life. How do they enrich you? What do you miss most about them when they are absent?
The thanks we lift up to God for what is truly important and beautiful should not be limited to Thanksgiving Day. It should be given every day. Why not take some time - today - to think of those persons who truly matter in your life, thank God for them, and ask Him for the gift of a renewed appreciation for what truly matters.