If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter
The drawing near of holidays sometimes brings me anxiety. Especially, for a few reasons I'll detail below, Thanksgiving. This year appears to be no different as I find myself catering to a household full of Covid positive patients who I call my family.
As my grandmother got older and grandpa had passed away, eventually the job of hosting Thanksgiving landed on my mom. This was the routine for many years until later when either my sister or I would carry that baton.
The following are a few snapshots of things that have occurred on or near Thanksgiving in my past:
So it's here that I find myself on the day after Thanksgiving pondering just how upside down things can be and, if I'm being honest, feeling a little sorry for myself.
As of this moment, 4 out of 6 of us have Covid. Some worse than others but mostly just muddling through. One of those with Covid is my wife. While I'm going to avoid specifics for the time being, my wife has had some recent health issues and was currently running through a gamut of medical diagnostic tests, a few of which are now postponed until she is no longer positive. Drawing out the time it takes know whether a health issue is serious or not is not conducive to a peaceful holiday to say the least.
My second oldest and myself are the only ones, so far, untouched by sickness. We've had to cancel our plans with family. We are obviously unable to have anyone over and I can't exactly go volunteer to help at our church with delivering meals on Thanksgiving.
I had a friend tell me once that he figured I used humor as a way to keep people at arms length. He's a cop though, so I was able to dismiss his critique as that of an unqualified opinion. There might be some truth to it though. Faith-wise, I have a tendency to be something of what Richard Beck would call a "Winter Christian", whereas my wife might be considered more of a "Summer Christian". I have a tendency to suspend relaxing because I'm always waiting for the other "shoe to drop" so to speak.
All of that isn't to say that I'm some curmudgeon always looking to be miserable. It's just that my compass naturally drifts in that direction a bit.
So, am I to give thanks at this time? The answer, while hedging always against things getting worse is... yes. How so?
All of these things, the things I'm afraid to lose or the things I worry about, are all coterminous with those things I love and value. Anxiety and hope are two sides of the same coin. When I look to the future and fear loss or disrepair, I only need to be reminded that the ability to do so is paid for by the value these things have now. This returns me to the present. I don't need to lose today in some effort to wait for tomorrow.
As the saying goes:
“So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today." - Matt 6:34 NRSV
Returning to that coin analogy from before: those things I most cherish are enough for today as well.Photo by Sixteen Miles Out on Unsplash