Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Thanksgiving remembered

"We ought to give thanks for all fortune: if it is 'good,' because it is good, if 'bad' because it works in us patience, humility and the contempt of this world and the hope of our eternal country." -C.S. Lewis

I can recall my Thanksgiving Day experience last year. I can shudder and smile at the thought. I was working at Whatcom (I had already graduated) for the newspaper and writing center at the time. The day before--yes a year ago to the day--I was at the college for a meeting...

Actually, it was a meeting with the Army recruiters. I had decided I'd better hear them out and honestly consider the options they offered. It wasn't any big deal and I made it pretty clear I would most likely decline. This just wasn't something I thought I would do. Granted, my Dad was in the Army and there is nostalgic value to joining. Still, that doesn't even begin to trump the fact that I don't think God has me going in that direction.

So, here I was listening to the two of them. Throwing questions out every once in a while, listening to their responses. I can remember some details...then things started to fade. I can remember getting a uncomfortable--so much so that I couldn't concentrate anymore. You would think the only think that could distract me in a setting like this would be the thought of tomorrows dinner--and I will gladly admit to having some consciousness of this pending delight--but that was not what swept all normal thought process from my mind. It was the chills, the throbbing head, the glazed vision; and it was getting worse by the minute.

No, I thought. This can't happen on the eve of what should be such an enjoyable break. But there was no denying it. I was now doing my best to keep my composure and at the same time direct the meeting to some kind of safe but quick conclusion--not an easy thing when the two of them are looking for encouraging signs from me. I don't remember what I did to get rid of them--I may have admitted to them I was starting to not feel so well. All I know is that it seemed much too long before they were out the door. My ride home was supposed to be the bus. I made a sudden decision: the bus was not an option. I was getting worse by the second and I was already having trouble standing still without wanting to collapse.

I called mom...she left right away to pick me up. In the mean time, I did what I could to keep warm by the fire in the reading room. I'm sure mom got there as soon as she could, but I don't think I ever spent such a torturous 20 minutes. Ah the aching, the dizziness...

By the time I reached home, I was completely wasted. Every normal faculty was gone. I died to the world in my bedroom, being wakened every half hour by mom to drink more water than a human ought to be able to handle. I finally drifted off for the night...

The next day was less then exciting I must say. My rough evening was past mind you and I was feeling much better. I was still sick though. Everyone was pretty out of sorts I think. Many of the normal cousins and ordinary dinner guest were out of town so we were all a bit listless. I remember Kylee, Ben's daughter, was acting up something fierce and the the table scene as a whole was quite surreal--in a somewhat anticlimactic way. I don't think I ever spent a Thanksgiving Day in quite such a manner--nor can I imagine it happening any time soon again. It was a good test of patience. It was a time for us to examine ourselves to see if we were truly thankful to the Lord for His gifts. It seemed like God had taken away all of the surface joys with which we love to coat the day, and all that was left was small bare group of us--Nathan was away in boot camp--and I was sick on top of that. It was trying. It was convicting.

This Thanksgiving will be different. There will be a big group of us. My uncle David brought a turkey. Others are pitching in. My cousins the Busheys are all moved into their new but unfinished house so they will be over for sure. God willing, it will be as festive as it has in years past. For myself, I will try to remember that even without the good food and company, I still need to be honest in my expression of gratitude. God deserves no less and certainly much more than we ever accomplish. Yet I now know how hard this is for a sinner like me to do. I know, because I felt it last year.
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