Look up and be grateful…

February 19, 2021

Pastor Freed used this colorful little quote today in his blog, Jack’s Winning Words“An ungrateful man is like a hog eating acorns under a tree, but never looking up to see where they come from,”  (Timothy Dexter) 

How easy it is to be like the unthinking hog in Freed’s quote. Even worse than that, how foolish it is for man to ascribe what he has to his own efforts. As bad as it is to say to oneself, “I found the tree and gathered the nuts, so my success is of my own doing”; man takes the next step and cuts down the tree for it’s wood and then wonders why he no longer has the acorns to eat that it provided. At least the hog did not cut down the tree.

Freed also mentioned in his post that it is good to have a little prayer at the table when we eat to remind us where the food really comes from. Most table prayers that I have heard also ask for forgiveness for whatever transgressions one might have committed against others. When said at the dinner table, a short prayer sort of cleans up whatever messes one has made during the day.

It is certainly easier to forgive the hog for not caring or wondering about where the acorns come from. We do not attribute a level of intelligence above that needed for subsistence to most animals. Man, however, has been blessed with a level of intelligence and awareness that allows him to question and wonder about all things. That same level of intelligence inevitably brings him face-to-face with God as the only plausible answer to the questions about his own existence that he cannot otherwise explain. The ultimate conclusion to all of his conjecture about his existence is that he did not invent God, God invented him. Upon reaching that conclusion, a man becomes grateful.

So, eat the acorns that you are given, but look up from time to time and be grateful to the God who provides the tree under which you are fed. You know where those acorns came from.

Have a great and grateful day and weekend.

Don’t worry, be grateful…

February 1, 2015

“My life isn’t perfect, but I am grateful.”  (Unknown) – from a recent post on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

One can take this as it is and do a riff on how we should be grateful just to be alive, and I am, by the way. However; one could mentally substitute the word “and” in place of the word “but” and launch off on a whole different take on things, which of course is what I’m going to do.

As I get older the original meaning of this little saying becomes more important to me. Each new day is a gift of more time here with friends and family and the other things (not necessarily possessions) that I have had the time to grow to appreciate.  The extra time alsothinking woman is more enjoyable because I have come to realize that what makes like so interesting and precious is the fact that it’s not perfect and that dealing with those imperfections requires attention, creativity and problem solving skills. Out of the need to deal with the imperfections of life come adventure, excitement, and passion.

Almost everything that happens to us in life somehow involves another human being – someone who did something or didn’t do something that caused a problem or elicits a reaction.  Of course there are calamities (imperfections on a large scale) that are caused not by people, but rather by nature – storms and floods and earthquakes and such. And sometimes the things that we count on in life just break or stop working and that can be an annoying imperfection in life.

However, the real gut-wrenching imperfections tend to involve relationships with other people. Dealing with natural calamities or the happenstance of the stuff around us not arguingworking as it should is at least more straightforward – it is what it is and we have to deal with it. The imperfections that are caused by strained or failed relationships are a bit harder to deal with, mainly because we must have played some role in whatever caused the riff, either through something that we did or didn’t do in our relationship with that other person. There is no way that we can duck the responsibility for having some role in this imperfection, unlike being able to say, “Oh well what are you going to do?” as we can with a major storm or an appliance that has stopped working.

So, how does that make life more interesting and why should you be grateful for those imperfections? It’s because it forces us to get outside ourselves, to acknowledge that we live in a society and not a cave by ourselves. Our world involves more than just meeting our own needs and our needs involve more than just staying alive. We are by nature social animals and like many other animals we seek others with which to share our lives. We don’t call our social connections or “pack”, but the concept is similar. Our inter dependencies with otherscaring in our “pack” are usually focused on more than just hunting and eating and more to do with feelings of self-worth and belonging.

Out of our need for social interaction come the imperfections in life that we must deal with and which keep life interesting. There is inevitable friction in every social “pack” – someone doesn’t like me, someone didn’t invite me to their party, I forgot to send a card to someone, someone is talking about me behind my back and on and on it goes. Sometimes just keeping all of the issues that are involved can be a mental exercise involving more work that solving the Sunday cross word puzzle I the paper. Then figuring out how to deal with these things, and what to say to whom; whether to try to help resolve these differences or just avoid getting in the middle of it is a decision process all of its own. It can keep you on your toes; but it sure isn’t boring and we should be grateful for that.

It is not really surprising when you think about it that “reality” shows have become so popular on TV. Reality is what we are used to living with and some of these shows do a fair job of mirroring the interesting things that we all know go on in real life. They are certainly easier to relate to than many of the drama or comedy shows.  (as entertaining as they may be).  What we supposedly see are real people gong about solving the real, everyday girls huggingproblems that we all might face; albeit many of the situations and people chosen may represent the extremes in life.

Many times in life and we get to the end of a crisis or situation we will say something like, “I’m glad that is over.”  Few of us realize at the time that we might also be glad that whatever it was happened. We survived, we figured it out, we solved the puzzle and because of that we are stronger, wiser and better off. Life is full of imperfections small and large and dealing with them and learning from those experiences is what makes it worth living. And for that I’m grateful.