Thursday, November 26, 2009

Giving Thanks in an Imperfect World

by Pat Brown

I am alone tonight (with my four cats) in the suburbs of Washington DC. I have a chance to reflect about my life, about all of our lives on this planet, to think back on a year of communal struggle with recession, fear, crime, and war. I think of what I have to give thanks for. I wonder what victims of crime and families who have suffered loss of loved ones can give thanks for. And I find there is always something if we break down our lives into moments instead of results.

I met a woman the other day at the movie theatre and we chatted for a while as we walked toward our cars in the parking lot. She told me how she felt life and the people she loved had let her down; that her life seemed a failure. I asked her how she would describe a vacation where she saw the most beautiful sunset on the beach, had a delightful picnic in a butterfly reserve, attended a fabulous musical show during the first half of the trip but during the second half it rained every day, the people at the hotel were rude, the dinner at the restaurant was horrible and then she fell down the steps while sightseeing and broke her foot.

When she told me she would view the vacation as a terrible one. I asked why she discounted the worth of the wonderful experiences she had during the first half? She smiled and said, "Well, I guess because the trip wasn't perfect and it didn't end well." Welcome to life.

We can all makes lists of bad things and good things that happen to us on our journey through the years. Some of us will have longer good lists, and some longer bad lists, but most of us will have a fair amount on both sides. And in those lists, we will have different qualities of experience, some mildly pleasant and some magnificant, some slighty disappointing and some devastating. Sometimes a bad experience will lead to a good one and vice versa. Isn't life fascinating?

I had a tubal pregnancy and infertility that led to the adoption of my third child. I had a difficult divorce that led me to a wonderfully close relationship with my sister and her husband and a whole new set of friends. Each door that closed was painful, but each door that opened was an adventure.

If we view life as a series of short stories instead of a novel, we can expect to have some chapters that are humorous, some romantic, some challenging, some exciting, some tragic, some spiritual, and some bittersweet. And we never know when one chapter will end and another will begin.

Today, as we spend time with friends and family or find ourselves alone with God, please let us remember to be thankful for each chapter of our lives and grateful for the people who have shared our stories with us for whatever time we had together.

Crime will return to Women in Crime Ink tomorrow, but for now, I wish you all a great Thanksgiving with your loved ones, and for those who are suffering the absence of a loved one, may your memories be comforting.


Kathryn Casey said...

Happy Thanksgiving, Pat! Beautiful post.

Jeanette Newlin said...
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Jersey Guy said...

I come to this late but very glad I found it. Beautiful and words for 365 days, not just thanksgiving. A keeper