Monday, November 25, 2013

Thanksgiving--Paying our Dues

On this Thanksgiving week I remember that old  couple who were members of the rural church I served. Once a month, without fail they would hobble in and hand me a  check. They always said the same thing, "We've come to pay our dues." 

We all have dues to pay, don 't we? Thanksgiving  provides us all with an opportunity to ponder the faces and events that stir our memories and take us back across the years. Surrounded by the lushness of so much, this day provides even the poorest of us with opportunity to do some healthy remembering.

Think about your own dues--and the people you owe more than you can even imagine.  I recall a tree my Daddy planted the day I was born that still stands. I remember a First-grade teacher that taught me to love learning and books. I remember a little all-too-typical church that pointed me upward and gave me an anchor that still holds.  I remember high school and a journalism teacher that whispered one day: “Would you like to write? I think you can.” And then there was College and Seminary and teachers and books and windows that opened to a much-larger world that I could have ever imagined.

My dues must include parents who sacrificed out of their poverty to provide me with opportunities they never had. How could I ever forget that girl that said yes over fifty-something years ago and has stuck with me through thick and thin? I also must include our two redheads that have made the trip enormously delightful.And my two beautiful granddaughters.  

Dues. Dues. Dues. It's time we pay up.  The friends we made. The dogs we’ve had—or had us. The employers that took a risk with us and forgave our mistakes. Enormous dues like music and laughter and stained glass windows and “The Lord is my Shepherd…” All our cups are full and running over. Flowers and full moons and colored leaves and singing birds and jogs on a fall day when you wish you could live forever. The list is endless.

 I think of the down times and the friends and family members that have stood by me. The people who called from all over when my father died. And that group that drove many miles to stand in the cemetery when I buried my mother. We all have wondered how we would get through the darkness of some troubled time. Sickness, death, disappointment, life taking a wrong turn--rejection slips. And sitting here on Thanksgiving I remember.

So pause between turkey and football. Maybe make a list. Look back over your shoulder and stir your memories. How far you have come and all those that cheered you on and made the trip worthwhile.

 Don’t be distracted at the spread on the table that seems to go on and on. Forget the Internet, troubles at work—the election, your aching back. You may just find yourself overwhelmed at what comes to mind. A check won't do it. That would be too simple. But bowing your head or just sitting in the silence maybe you'll remember all those dues that this Thanksgiving are coming due.

No wonder, in a terrible time of plague and death, the Pastor who had to bury all the dead
wrote, amazingly:

"Now thank we all our God  With hearts and hands and voices
Who wondrous things has done, in whom the world rejoices;
Who from our mother's arms, Hath blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today."


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