So Much to be Thankful For
Recently on a couple of occasions, the Powerball or Mega Millions Jackpots topped $1 Billion Dollars (or probably $400 after taxes). Needless to say, I decided to get a ticket.
I was not successful, but like many others who occasionally get a lottery ticket, I at times do a little bit of daydreaming. A cabin in northern Minnesota would be nice, as would someplace along the Gulf of Mexico. And of course were I to win a big lottery prize, the parish debt would be gone the next day.
However, I have to say “lottery fever” isn’t something that I have. I know the odds of winning are pretty remote. But while it might be fun to daydream, on a little deeper level, I often think about just how blessed I am. Two of my favorite songs are “Live Until I Die” by Clay Walker, and “I’ve Got It Made” by John Anderson, both country singers. The former from Walker is about just living life each day and enjoying the blessings of the simple life; the latter is a reflection of the many things life gives us, and even though he wont have a 40 room mansion high on the hill, he has it made because he has the morning sun, the evening breeze, the woman he loves close to him, good friends, the moon and stars above.
What I love with those songs is they are a reminder to me of the good things in life that have come my way. And Thanksgiving, which we celebrate this week (how did that come up so fast?) is a great time to think about the things in life that make it so great.
Thinking about my own list this year, here are a few things that came to mind:
Family and friends. Just over a year ago, my dad went through a triple bypass surgery; he made a great recovery and is now doing great. It’s a joy to visit home regularly, to have a meal, to play some cribbage, and to just be at ease in the home I grew up in. I’m also blessed with a small but great circle of supportive friends who I often see who are also so helpful, including some great “doggo” friends for Emmett and a great place for him to be whenever I’m away for a bit.
The greatest dog in the universe. Well, one of the two greatest that ever existed, the other being Kirby. But I’m biased. Any dog lover knows how much a dog can do for them to lift the spirits and soul; what a joy it is to toss the ball, to go for a walk, and to just hang out with Emmett.
Nature. Indeed John Anderson was right; the morning sun, the evening breeze, the moon and stars above are pretty wonderful. Getting out in nature does so much for me, whether I’m going looking for birds in-state, going for a walk, or going on a longer trip to a national park. What a beautiful world it is. Seeing the work of the Lord in Creation does so much to lift the soul.
A Loving God & Being a Part of His Church. As we often say at our school, “God is good, all the time.” Admittedly, sometimes I like things in black and white, much like a GPS gives you step by step directions. God does not work quite like that, but I know He is watching over me and helping me through the ups and downs of my life as I strive to become a saint. I’m also so thankful for the Church which Jesus established so I can receive Jesus in the Eucharist, and learn my faith at a deeper level.
The Priesthood. Archbishop Harry Flynn, who ordained me in 2007, said to our class not too long before we were ordained that if he had 100 lives to live, he would live them all as a priest. I have to say that sometimes priesthood can be stressful – it is tough to be up in front of a lot of people and preach, and to deal with administrative things at times as a pastor. But it is such a blessing to be able to offer Mass, to hear confessions, to celebrate anointings of the sick, and to be with people at their best and most challenging moments. Related to this, there are so many great people around me who help me in my ministry; what a great team we have here at the parish and school, and it is so great to work with them.
Challenges. This might seem like a paradox, but sometimes in life we have challenges that come our way that make us stronger. If everything were handed to us on a silver platter, we might not appreciate things as much. Sometimes our challenges can be frustrating, but we can also emerge from them better and learn so much about ourselves along the way. I’m currently working on a few different things to improve, and as my good friend put it he’s excited to see “Kammen 2.0.” What we want in life doesn’t come easy, but when we work at it, we can, with God as our coach, accomplish so much.
Today. I also try to give thanks each day for another day. Not every day is perfect; but even on the challenging days, I can find things that are so great in those challenging days too. Another day is another moment of opportunity to do new things, to impact the lives of the others, and to be a person of hope making this world a better place.
Freedom, Our Nation, and Those who Defend Her. We are all aware of the many problems in the world, including those in our own country. But our founders, in their wisdom, realized that rights came from God not a government. For all the issues there are, I am so grateful to be an American, and to live in such an incredible nation. And with that, I am so thankful for the man unsung heroes of our home front; the police, firefighters and paramedics, and the many who have served in our nation’s military to defend freedom. May we never take our freedoms for granted.
Indeed, we all have it made. On the one hand life isn’t easy; people hurt us; we face obstacles with health, finances, and other anxieties. The Good Lord did not say all these would go away. But He is with us every step of the way, and loves us more than we could ever imagine.
Good luck if you win Power Ball. (And Church donations are a great way to reduce tax burdens I’d add). But even if you don’t, never forget we’ve got it made.
God bless and Happy Thanksgiving, Fr. Paul
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