23 May Picnics, Hotdogs, & Gratitude
The unofficial start of summer is here! Picnics and parades, flags and fireworks, hot dogs and hamburgers, watermelon and waterslides—this weekend we will remember and celebrate our freedom, our country, our family and friends, and our many, many blessings.
Memorial Day reminds us that no matter how individualistic we like to think we are (and in America, personal freedoms are one of our favorite idols), we are, in truth, interconnected and dependent upon one another. Servicemen and women are keeping the peace on our behalf. Teachers are educating our children and grandchildren. Farmers are growing the crops and raising the livestock that grace our tables each evening. Road crews ensure that we can get from Point A to Point B without losing an axle in the process. Healthcare workers stitch us up, inoculate us, and provide help and healing.
It is so, so easy to forget that it is a gift that clean water comes out of the tap every single time we turn it on; that with the push of a button we can talk to someone halfway around the globe; that scientific discovery is helping us better understand our bodies, our planet, and our universe in ways that not very long ago were thought to be impossible. It is a grace that we can see photos of deep space or of a loved one living on another continent—in real time. It is a blessing that generations of Americans have no idea what a bread line is, that our grocery stores are continually stocked with a wide and wild variety of foods, that engineers can design a skyscraper that actually sways—because it is safer in an earthquake than one that doesn’t.
There are literally thousands of graces, big and small, that permeate our daily lives: penicillin and insulin, music and musicians, our five senses, weather forecasts, peaceful elections, books to be read, children being born, raspberry jam on a biscuit. I invite you, friend, to make a special point this Memorial Day weekend to express your thanks—to God and to one another. Gratitude is one way to honor the sacrifices that have been made for us. Gratitude acknowledges that we are a community, that it is the people in our lives who give so much meaning to our daily experiences, who make our own sacrifices worthwhile.
In gratitude, let us appreciate all that we share in common. We do not have to agree on everything to appreciate the contributions we each make to our common life. Some of us need to reach across the aisle, and some of us need to reach across the kitchen table to thank those around us for bringing their unique perspectives and insights to our daily, human challenges. One of my mother’s favorite quips is, “If two people see eye-to-eye on everything, one of them is not necessary.” The truth, of course, is that we are all necessary, because we need to learn from one another and grow together. What better time to share our gratitude for community than this Memorial Day?
Yours for the Kingdom,