Praise the LORD!
O give thanks to the LORD, for God is good;
for God’s steadfast love endures forever.
If Jah didn’t love I (love I),
If I didn’t love I,
Would I be around today?
Would I be around to say:
Give thanks and praises, give thanks and praises…
Bob Marley – Give Thanks and Praises
It’s that time of year again. I’m not talking about the onslaught of Christmas carols on your local radio station (although they’ve already begun here in Western New York). It’s Thanksgiving week, the season where we gather together and (hopefully) express our gratitude for what we have received.
Personally speaking, I have much to be thankful for. In fact, my gratitude list could literally be pages long. But to simplify, I will list the Top 10 things for which I am thankful for:
1. The Holy Trinity – God, Christ and the Holy Spirit.
I cannot even begin to explain (or express) how I have been able to pass through my life and endure the challenges I have had. I can only describe this help as coming from a Power Greater than myself.
2. My family
Another primary source of support I have had in my life is my family. Beginning with my parents, and extending to my wife Suzy and daughters Sarah and Lillie, the love I have received has known no bounds. I also have had immeasurable support from my extended family, including my cousin Carolyn (who is like my sister) among others.
3. My friends
As the saying goes, we choose our friends and not our family. I consider myself fortunate because I have supports in both. I have had friendships, some lasting for decades, that have proven to be invaluable. My friends have been there for me at my most difficult times.
4. My home
he saying, “Home is where the heart is,” is very true for me. I have lived in my home for over 40 years. My daughters grew up here with my father who passed away in 2017. I have so many memories, some painful, but most of them are filled with good feelings.
5. Sustenance and clean air (okay, that’s two)
We cannot live without food, air and water. I am incredibly privileged to live in a community where the water is potable, the air is clean and I have food to keep me nourished. These are things I will never take for granted.
Yes, I live with co-occurring bipolar addiction disorder but I have learned how to successfully manage my condition. My most recent manic episode was in March 1995. I have been in long-term recovery from drugs and alcohol since January 17, 1988. Recovery is a true gift however I have earned every day of what I have.
7. My vocation
I love the work I do. I used to never believe this was possible, but now I have found something that feeds my soul. The ability to help others in a variety of ways has helped me to follow God’s call in my life. Whether it be teaching Mental Health First Aid, working with the Youth Peer Mentors at the Mental Health Advocates of Western New York, or meeting with individuals one-on-one, I have been able to give what I have been so freely given.
I’ve meditated somewhat sporadically over my lifetime however I have recently established a habit of meditating daily (usually in the morning and evening). I have found this practice to be especially valuable in the way of helping me to manage stress and calm what is known in Buddhist philosophy as “monkey mind.”
I have been known to say, “Music is my salvation.” Music has been something that has served as one of the primary coping skills I have to manage my mental health. I can use it as a means of dealing with the day-to-day problems by providing me with an albeit brief respite from whatever causes me to get off balance.
Okay, I have to mention my wonderful mixed beagle affectionately known by our family as “Princess” Sophie. She is a delight, despite her mischievous moments. Sophie’s unconditional love is without bounds.
There are more, however I would have to say that these as being the ones that are most significant. This, for me, is a special time of year. And for these I am thankful.