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COLUMN: Learning the art of being truly thankful

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By John Lapp

Well, here we are, another Thanksgiving Day — my 75th. I remember many of them with fond memories of family gatherings here and yonder.
No, it’s not Turkey Day (as some call it), but a day that has been set aside in our wonderfully blessed country to always come on the fourth Thursday of November, and in Canada, on the second Monday in October.
So what does it mean to truly be thankful?
Webster’s dictionary defines the word thankful as “conscious of benefit received (for what we are about to receive, make us truly thankful),” and furthermore Webster presents the word Thanksgiving as: “(1) the act of giving thanks, (2) a prayer expressing gratitude, (3) a public acknowledgment of celebration of divine goodness.” The dictionary states that Thanksgiving Day is “a day appointed for giving thanks for divine goodness.”
Well, now that you know the dictionary definition, what about you? What are you thankful for, and will you tomorrow offer a prayer of thanksgiving for what you have, although it may not be as much as others have?
Here are a few things that I personally am thankful for: that I live in the greatest country in the world, a country that has had a history of more often than not being the most benevolent country in the world.
While serving my country for six years as a member of the United States Marine Corps, I always felt proud of being able to serve, and while my service was during peace­time, not like our world today, I was always prepared and thankful that we were ready for anything. I am still unable to see my country’s flag without having some strong emotions, even tears.
I am thankful that, in spite of the wars going on today, we have men and women serving proudly and without hesitation to do what is necessary to defend and protect our freedoms.
I am also very thankful for the freedom to worship in any church I so choose, no matter what the tag (denomination) of that particular church.
We have dozens of church bodies in and around Spencer County, all within a 30 minute driving distance. I read of the persecution, often prosecution, that takes place in so many countries around the world where religious freedom is against the law, and I hear of the many groups who meet secretly, often traveling at night several miles by bicycle or on foot, just to attend a church service, where there is only one Bible or maybe just a portion of a Bible which is used by the speaker/pastor.
These meetings take place knowing that they could be interrupted by the authorities, or worse, often having the buildings they meet in destroyed. What do they do then? They meet in the woods and still hold services.
Maybe the building your church meets in is not as elaborate as others, but worship is free.
What follows would take many pages of this publication, so I will just list several items and you can fill in your own story. I know that many of you will, and should before consuming the meal you have planned for tomorrow.
No matter how much, or how little you may currently have, be thankful for:
•Family members (even those deceased)
•Friends/colleagues (close/not so close)
•Homes (big/small/tiny)
•Food (no matter how much/little)
•Health (although some not as healthy)
•Clothes (some new/worn/’threadbare)
•Freedom (without legal restraints)
Tomorrow, and every day, try offering a prayer of thanksgiving for what you have.
Webster, defines another word, thankless, as “not expressing a feeling of gratitude, ungrateful.”
Be thankful for what is yours. I’m going to do the same. God bless you and yours.
For information or to suggest a topic for upcoming articles, call 477-2818 or email johnlapp36@yahoo.com.