The world is struggling. Hate seems the strongest emotion. Lives are in danger. The future is uncertain. Fear grips the soul. I've watched with concern and intrigue as our brothers and sisters in Paris have faced terrorism. I've listened to arguments from all sides around the responses to Syrian Refugees needing a place to belong. I've wondered as I hear gun shots in my neighborhood, who might be the next victim of senseless violence. Will it be someone I know, or the family member of someone in my circle of friends. Even closer to death's door, one of my long time friends is lying in a hospital bed clinging to life. It's from his hospital room that I write this article.
It's the last week in November, the week in which we celebrate Thanksgiving. For some, the week is a welcome respite from work--a long weekend. For some, it means a big meal and family. For some, it is a reminder of the pain of life, the loneliness of the world and the heartache of disappointment. For some, it is a day of thanksgiving simply because one ought to be grateful once a year for the bounty they experience. It never occurs to them that their lives could suddenly become encumbered with pain or loss.
We all have heart wounds. Whether they come from the uncertainty of the world around us, or whether they are personally experienced on a daily basis, or whether they come from an expectation that life should always be to our liking--we all have wounds.
The secret to healing our hearts is the elixir of thanksgiving. The remedy for our woundedness is the recognition that all that we have materially, right down to the air we breathe, is a gift from God. When we give thanks for those things that we take for granted, we acknowledge that while we have these things--freedom, air to breathe, many luxuries that are not available to the rest of the world--we did not get them by ourselves, nor do we have the power to keep them. We acknowledge the Giver of all good gifts--God, our maker.
Over 2000 years ago the world was struggling. Hate seemed to be the strongest emotion. Lives were in danger. The future was uncertain. Fear gripped the soul. The Giver of all good gifts gave the best gift, the gift of Love for a world that was wounded. That gift was Jesus, love personified. Love continues to topple hate, to heal hurts, to calm fears. As we give thanks, we lift Love high about all that destroys. It is fully available and always plentiful. It can never be taken away. For the gift of Love, Jesus, I give thanks.
Father, thank you for sending the gift of Love. Thank you that, even in the darkest times Love never fails. Thank you that your son, Jesus, gave all so that we could live in the fullness of your love even when life brings pain. Thank you that our hearts are healed as we embrace your love and give you thanks. You are a good, good Father.
Shelley Lopez, Executive Director
Shelley has been a member of the Springfield community for 29 years. As she lives and works and worships in the city, she uses the metaphor of an old Victorian house restoration to keep her focused on the work she is called to do. Inspired by the words of the prophet Isaiah, she pours herself into "restoring old ruins, rebuilding and renovating, making the community livable again" (Is. 58:12 MSG)