Sunday, November 20, 2005

Thanksgiving 2005

Halleluyah. Hodu LaAdonai Ki Tov, Ki L'Olam Chasdo. (T'hillim 106:1)Hallelujah. Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good: for his steadfast love endures forever! (Psalm 106:1)Shu o-Hometataeyo. Shu ni-kanshaseyo, Shu-wa megumi fukaku, Sono itsukushi-me-wa tokoshieni taeru koto-ga nai. (Shihen 106:1)
!Aleluya! Alabad al Senor, porque el es bueno; Porque para siempre es su misericordia. (Salmos 106:1)We give thanks for each and every one of you. We have so many things to give thanks for, and we often forget to give thanks or even to be thankful for them. Thanks be to God for this one day we Americans set aside to give thanks and to remember all of our many blessings.

We give thanks for our parents and their parents and the ancestors who came before them.

We give thanks for parents who raised us in love. For parents who stayed together their entire lives. For parents who loved one another. For parents who taught us right from wrong, both in word and in deed. For parents who provided for our every need. For parents who made us proud to be part of the families we were born into. For parents who mirrored God for us.

We give thanks for children whom we had the privilege of raising in love.

For our eldest, who found her husband in Nihon (thanks be to God), who is raising two wonderful children, a boy, the Lord gives, whose middle name rings with his ancestry and his mother's Spanish birth, and a girl whose middle name is redolent of lilies and her Mom. For her fiery determination to do what's right and to be all she is meant to be. For her faithful communication via email (with pictures) every week. For her husband, a loving, intelligent, industrious husband and father. For his job as an engineer.

For Australia, where they live.

For our son, for his kind and gentle soul. For his artful insight and insightful art. For the wife who has been prepared for him but has yet to find him (and him her). For his loyalty and faithfulness to friends and family. For his love of music and his ability to create it. For his work in information technology.

For our second daughter, who also found her husband in the Land of the Rising Sun (Shu-ni arigatou gozaimashita!), who is so far blessed with one son, whose middle name is a mighty mountain! For her merciful spirit and cheery countenance. Her smile lights up a room and a father's heart. For her husband, a loving, smart, solid husband and father. For his work as a pastor in his father's church.

For our youngest daughter, a special, special young woman, who has overcome signficant handicaps. For her loving, caring, compassionate spirit. For her "stick-to-it-iveness," her perseverance that has enabled to her to triumph over the obstacles set in her path. For the amazing family with whom she lives. For the county program that makes this possible. For the taxpayers who have made this possible. For the committed people in the day program in which she is involved.

We give thanks for our siblings.

For my brother and sister, whom I see too seldom but always think of fondly and thankfully. For growing out of our youthful squabbles to a place where we fully respect and appreciate one another. For their spouses and their families and the provision to lead prosperous and blessed lives.

For my wife's sisters, both here and in heaven. For the two we know well and the one we never knew. For their husbands and their fine families, two daughters for each sister, four young women to be proud of. For the privilege of having one of those nieces share our home and brighten our lives with her presence.

We give thanks for our aunts and uncles.

In Hebrew, uncles and aunts are spelled with the same letters as "beloved." For our beloved ones, who have always been there for us, who have often served in loco parentis, who have shared with us their love and their vast experience, who have often made for us and given us the things we needed, both for us and for our children. For aunts and uncles who are present in the body and those who have departed this earth.

We give thanks for our cousins.

For our cousins, both near and far, both close and less close. For the annual reunion and the aperiodic reunions on both sides of the family. For my Denver cousin, because of whom we have spent nine nonpareil years in Colorado. For the husband from Madrid whom she met there, who is now proud to be an American citizen. For their two tall sons! For the many years we have spent together and the blessed months we spent sharing a roof!

For cousins we email. For cousins we snail mail! For a cousin in Florida who (with her daughters) was so much a part of making my childhood happy and memorable. For her daughters and their children and children's children. For cousins we visited as children who are now gone. Requiescat in Pace.

We give thanks for our friends.

We give thanks for one another, husband and wife, because we are one another's best friend. For our childhood friends and classmates. Both of us were blessed with an amazing array of wonderful friends who blessed us and helped us get through childhood. We don't often see them, but we think of them often. With our schoolmates, we spent more time than with nearly any other group in our lives. We appreciate them. For friends who stood with us in thick and thin, when things were going well and when things were not. When we did things to be proud of and when we did things we were not so proud of.

For shipmates in a 25-year naval career. For the U.S. Navy, through which we earned a living, served our nation and our fellow Americans, saw the world, and met many people from many lands, living in Espana, Italia, Canada, and Nihon (Japan). For the love and acceptance of those wonderful people we met around the world. For the cultures and languages, which reflect the ways they have been blessed by God, which represent the paths they have followed, the ideas they have believed, the things they have accepted and rejected in their varied histories.

For my leaders in the U.S. Navy, a finer group of humans it would be difficult to think of. For my favorite duty stations and those that were not my favorite. For the Owls of the Sixth Fleet (you know who you are). For my favorite boss, who now lives in Oregon and we still haven't been out to visit (we're thankful in advance for the time we'll have together). We shared wonderful times with our Chaplains and their families. For my co-workers, from whom I learned so much, and who covered my "rear flank" more times than I may care to remember! For Allied navies, with whom I served in Japan and Canada and Australia.

For our Japanese choir (and for our beloved choir director in high school, who taught me to sing, that I might participate with such a group), with whom we sang western classical music: e.g. Bach, Handel, Mendelssohn, Campra, Mozart. A more courteous and giving group of people we have seldom encountered. They treated us like royalty. There were our friends, our teachers, our guides, our companions during five enchanting years in their country. For the beautiful music we made together, and the composers who wrote it so many years before. For the conductor who treated us with such respect and who communicated with his eyes when our language failed us (all of the non-English-speaking choir members, in fact, often communicated without words).

We give thanks for our teachers and professors, who taught us so much (some of which we have even managed to remember!)

We were fortunate to go to school during a time when real subjects were still being taught. We had teachers who drilled us, who cared enough to make sure we learned something. We are thankful for those who devoted their lives to ensuring a particular body of knowledge, understanding, and skills were transmitted to the next generation.

We give thanks for our brothers and sisters in the church.

For those who raised us in Spain as we awakened to "the things of God." For those who are likeminded and those who are not. For those with whom we have shared our lives in a huge household. For pastors and teachers and elders and deacons. For Chaplains faithfully serving the U.S. Navy around the world. For students and teachers and all the things we've learned together. For Youth with a Mission and the people we met through them.

For those who continue to be committed to us though they live in far off Richmond. They have been a combination mother/father, aunt/uncle, dearly beloved whatever designation is used.

For our Saturday night Torah portion study and worship service and the congregation, that with its name proclaims our debt to Israel, that with its name proclaims our attachment to Jacob, that with its name proclaims that the only reason we have any hope in this life or the next, the only reason we know anything about the Divine, is because of his chosen ones, the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. We are thankful for their faithfulness. We are thankful that they said, "We will do and we will hear." For the pastors, who are so giving and who have become such close friends in such a short period of time. For all of our friends in this congregation, with whom we have broken bread many times in the past and look forward to many times in the future.

For the church where we are privileged to teach a Hebrew Roots class on Sunday. For the members of that class who have become like family. For our fellow teachers who are so dearly loved and treasured.

For all the churches, chapels, groups, studies, and assemblies with whom we have had fellowship over the years.

We give thanks for our Jewish brothers and sisters.

For the kindnesses they have showered upon us. For the scriptures and the knowledge of God that has come to us through them. For our fellow students in our Torah B'Ivrit classes. For our friends in "intentional community," a group of conscious learners who have blessed us considerably. For our beloved Hebrew teacher, mentor, and friend, who (along with her entire family) has taught us so much. For the friends met in Boulder, for the father of the Jewish Renewal, for those met at the "Orchard of Hearts." For our friends in Action Israel and Chai Night and at Chai Life Expressions. For our beloved friends from the Hebrew Educational Alliance.

We give thanks for our employers.

My employer and his family have become like family. For them, we give thanks. For a means of providing for our family. For an employer who is often more concerned about his employees than anything else. For my wife's place of employment and co-workers.

I must bring this to an end, because we are going to my cousin's for Thanksgiving dinner. We are thankful for this tradition, which goes back many years, even back to her mother's hosting Thanksgiving dinner in Ohio.

We give thanks for all those people and things we have forgotten to mention.

I managed to avoid using names so as not to leave anyone out. Nevertheless, I know there are literally thousands of other things that could be mentioned for which we are thankful. I'm sure you could too. We are thinking of each and every one of you today, and we are thankful for you.

I conclude this letter as I concluded my speech upon retiring from the U.S. Navy in Japan (at which 25 members of our Japanese choir were in attendance and honored us with the singing of the Hallelujah chorus). I know there must be less than desirable things in my life, but I cannot think of any. As I give thanks, I can only think of good things, of positive things.

When I retired I said, "There must have been people with whom I didn't get along, who didn't get along with me, but for the life of me I can't remember them. I am left with nothing but good memories of my naval career." For that, and all these other things, and many others, as well, we give thanks!

May God bless you all richly and grant you His complete and perfect Shalom......

Written from Denver
Thanksgiving 2005

Give thanks in everything! (Thanksgiving 2004)

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