Day of Thanks AND Forgiving

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Thank you to those we know and don’t know.
To those who keep the lights on, the trains and trucks running, our homes and water heated,
Those who work in places that never close or to which we can go or call in an emergency.
To those who keep our streets safe, our computers running, those who grow and stock our food, those who invent and create to keep expanding our world.
To those who dare imagine new remedies to restore our health.
To those who fight to preserve our freedoms.
AND
Today is also a day to forgive ourselves for our failings and forgive others for theirs.
Try as we do we may come up short, and yet we must pull ourselves up and try again, remembering that defeat and loss should not keep us down for long.
There is just this one life.
When we feel alone and self pity knocks at our door, we say hello and goodbye.
When we do not get what we want in one field or endeavor, we try another. And another.
If our love is not returned we smile back and keep searching.
To pain unrelieved we look it in the eye and say, ‘I will get past you, you will not defeat me.’
To whose who wish to harm or kill us we say, ‘Why do you want to give me your pain?
Why are you running from your humanity?’
We will keep quarrelling and fighting, it’s part of who we are, but can we lessen the harm we do to each other? Can we soften the injuries we inflict?
Why do we forget that our victims are our brothers and sisters?
Should we not remind ourselves every morning when we step out, that we have the option to hurt or not hurt a fellow human being?
And yet, some pain we may not be able to stop, even if we want to.
Yesterday, as I returned home from buying groceries, I spotted an old acquaintance who has given up on life. He is self employed and has means to seek help but has chosen not to do so. I called out to him and he stopped. We talked. ‘Have you sought help?’ I asked. ‘No. I don’t care.’
A middle aged man, he’s felt defeated for years. “There is help,’ I insisted as I’ve done before. ‘Thank you but I don’t care,’ he replied. ‘I don’t have any friends. My relatives live far away.’
‘There is zoom,’ I answered. ‘It won’t work,’ he returned.
As he got ready to get into his car he said, ‘The other day, I think I almost had a heart attack.’ ‘There is help,’ I said again.
‘I don’t care.’ And he got in and drove away, a prisoner of his suffering.
I felt impotent as I walked back to my car, aware that I may not see him again.
But some pain can be stopped.
I am sure that on a day like today, theatres were open in Moscow, with actors playing dramas and comedies that spoke of the intricacies of the human condition.
And we can envision a conversation between two people exiting the theatre. ‘Did you enjoy the play, Igor?’ She asks her husband. ‘Delightful. How the actor captured the nuance in the emotions. Marvelous.’
Just as their political leader keeps ordering more and more missiles be fired to kill more and more Ukrainians.
We humans have a great ability to live with contradictions.
I’ve been watching a drama on Netflix called ‘The Last Kingdom,’ set in the British Iles many centuries ago, before England was England. In the story, a Saxon king relies heavily on a valiant and skilled warrior to preserve his dominion. The Saxon king is a devout believer in God. The valiant warrior is pagan. For all that the Saxon king owes the pagan warrior, he is most intolerant of his being pagan and he will not embrace him as he is. Will not accept his difference.
I have not reached the end of the series, but it seems the king will not accept the warrior as he is even if it means putting the existence of his dominion at risk.
We humans have a great ability to live with contradictions.
Attempting to resolve them builds bridges between us. Not doing so dooms us.
We’ve been at it for centuries.
Sometimes we give up and just slaughter, burn or rip each other apart.
But there is still hope. In each one of us.
Giving thanks to another human being is a step forward.
Forgiving ourselves and others, yet another.