Monday, November 27, 2006

Giving Thanks

Being away from home for a period of time has the advantage of making one appreciate it even more. Such, at least, was the case for me over the last few days as I journeyed from Minnesota back to Greenville. Not only did I enjoy the usual repast of turkey, dressing, sweet potato casserole, vegetables of assorted varieties, and pies to make the mouth water, but especially the company of my wife and daughters in our recently-acquired brick home at our relatively-new dining room table. As I thought about all of those people in worn-torn countries around the world (especially the children whose eyes break your heart), it was clear that we who have so much need to engage in not only giving thanks, but also giving of ourselves and our resources.

Making the trip on Tuesday and Sunday proved to be an adventure in and of itself. Special kudos go to Northwest Airlines who checked me in quickly and professionally. Security checks in Minneapolis were fast, friendly, and efficient, while St. Louis kept us moving with far fewer TSA personnel. Flying to St. Louis I was surrounded by three returning deer hunters who had had far too much to drink. As they fought over the stewardess' last beer and drooled over the female passengers, I was glad that it was a short flight. Coming back, I was surrounded by young children, most of whom did fairly well, given the circumstances. The "Bad Dad" award goes to a young man caught up in his own video games while his daughter banged a singing, dancing Elmo against the tray table. By the end of the flight I was wishing one of those drunk hunters could take out Elmo (whose high-pitched voice for hours on end could profitably be put to better use in interrogating potential terrorists!).

As I returned to the familiarity of the choir at St. John's this morning and the faces of my fellow sabbaticants, it occurred to me just how much I have to give thanks for: for a loving wife, who supports me on this semester-long sabbatical; for children who love God and are committed to the classroom as a place for shaping young lives; for friends who are truly "kindred spirits" here at St. John's and back in Greenville; for work that gives meaning to life and offers privileges most will never know; for economic well-being and a new home to use for Kingdom purposes; for students who encourage and often surprise me with their insights; and, for the God above who has taken me down roads I could never have imagined and given to one from humble origins experiences never to be forgotten. For all of this, and more, I give thanks.