Albert Schweitzer said, “At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”
Thanksgiving started as an annual celebration of gratitude for the blessing and bounty of the harvest. In today’s world, perhaps it is more of a ritual celebration of the practice of gratitude; a brief pause in an otherwise frenetic world where family and friends gather, feasts are shared, and some take the opportunity to “give back” in service to others.
Entering into Thanksgiving 2017, I’m thinking of those for whom I, as Schweitzer observed, have deep gratitude for – those for whom I am grateful, as they rekindled my own flame within. To me, it’s particularly appropriate to think of these spiritual torchbearers, as the pause of Thanksgiving always seems to arrive just in time amid weariness and smoldering optimism.
Yes, I’m thinking of family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors. Likewise, I’m thinking of the homeless I am privileged to serve, as the time invested with them always provides very personal returns – and in spades. And I’m thinking of our military and public servants who stand selflessly for me, their unmet protectee. For each of them, I am thankful.
There is one, though, for whom I am particularly thankful this Thanksgiving. She’s one who has rekindled my own flame within with the subtlety of a flamethrower. Let me tell you a bit about her…
- She has reconnected family and friends long disconnected and separated by miles;
- She has confronted fear with the courage of a decorated warrior;
- She has smiled through unimaginable discomfort;
- She has refocused our priorities and reminded us of what truly matters;
- She has brought strangers together in a time when unity and common purpose are more often than not difficult to fathom, much less to realize;
- She has filled rooms with laughter when they may otherwise seem so hollow and dark;
- She has renewed purpose for those called into her path to provide care and counsel;
- She has brought countless people to prayer including, perhaps, some who would otherwise remain disengaged in their conversation and detached from their relationship with Him; and
- In doing so, she has renewed hope in many, while ultimately…
- She as served and pleased Him.
Indeed, she has “lighted the flame within us.” And she is just four years old.
Today, friends, I am thankful for young Lelia and her example. As she continues her battle with cancer, my prayer is that Lelia and family feel the gratitude and thanks of all who are blessed to know them, to pray with them, and to walk with them.
As we give thanks and “practice gratitude” today, consider…beyond material bounty, the protection of a secure home, and the comfort of a great meal, what are we truly grateful for? Who has ignited the flame within each of us and how will we continue to use that flame to bring light and warmth to others…in keeping with Lelia’s example? For a child to be born into this world and to bring such light with her is, perhaps, about as Christ-like as it gets.
And I wonder…what if we paused a bit each day to “practice gratitude” – not just the fourth Thursday of November…annually? Think of the possibilities if each of us could emulate a little bit of Lelia’s courageous example, daily.
Keep it Lit, indeed.
Happy Thanksgiving, friends. My prayers are with Lelia and her family – Rebecca, Mike, Brendan, Micah, and Lelia, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and all who are warmed by Lelia’s light. Yesterday we prayed that our children’s light may be a shining example of His glory; today our prayer is affirmed by Lelia’s example.
And my prayer for all today is in Numbers 6:24-26. Grace and peace be yours.