Faithfully yours - Four weeks of gratitude, Part one


By Neil Strohschein

Neepawa Banner & Press

As this is the month in which we Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving, I thought I would share a list of 12 things for which I am thankful—three today and three each for the next three weeks.

My list might not be the same as yours. But these are things that have taken on new significance in recent days; and despite the fact that some days present challenges that are hard to handle, I am really unable to complain about all that much. There is much more for which I can be thankful than about which I can complain.

That said, here are the first three items on my list of things for which I am thankful.

1) Life: Something I didn’t always appreciate as much as I do now.

It’s amazing how one event can significantly change one’s view of life. For my wife and me, that event was the sudden death of a close family friend last February. The news of her death touched us deeply. We are regular visitors to her final resting place and will never forget the dignity, integrity, courage and grace which she displayed each day.

This experience, along with several others, has renewed my passion to make the most of every day I have. I know that I have lived a lot longer than I am going to live; and that I need to live every day as though it’s my last—because one day it will be.

But I am not about to sit idly by and wait for death to come. My motto for life is one I heard many years ago: “Today (this day) is God’s gift to you. What you do with it is your gift to God and to his world.”

2) Senses: I still have them all.

I can see, hear, speak, taste, smell, etc. Mind you, I do need some help in the “seeing” department (I’ve been wearing glasses since the age of 12) and my wife does accuse me of “selective hearing” from time to time (for good reason). The aches and pains that come with advancing years are becoming more prominent; but are quite minimal when I compare them with the physical impairments of some people that I know.

My heart bleeds for those who can’t go outside and enjoy the fall weather because of asthma or other breathing problems. I can’t begin to imagine the challenges faced by those who battle dementia, ALS, or one of the many forms of cancer. Their battles are far greater than mine—as is the courage they display in facing them. As I give thanks for the faculties I possess, I remember to pray for those who are sick and suffering.

3) Gifts and talents: And for those who helped me develop them.

The late Fred Rogers once said that “no one arrives at any point in life without help.” He encouraged people to take a moment to remember those who, by a word of advice or a helping hand, made it possible for us to develop our skills and talents to their fullest potential. “Some,” he said, “will be close by. Some will be far away. Some will be in heaven. But think of how proud they will be to know that they had a part in helping you become the wonderful person that you are.”

I have been blessed with many such people in my life and today, I thank God for them all. Next week: three more items on my list.