A couple years ago I wrote some Thanksgiving thoughts. I’ve reposted them here to help start your Thanksgiving Week.
One thing I have observed in thirty years of ministry to people, some of whom have lived through the Great Depression or forded other deep, fast waters in life is this: Hard times can be good times if we stick together.
Another Thanksgiving is here. It’s a sweet, simple, unadorned holiday. The purpose is to gather with those you love and give thanks to our Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer, and Lover of our Souls for His continual bounty and care for us. I love the simplicity of it. I love it more every year. This year I got to thinking about a way celebrate Thanksgiving. It would work on Christmas or New Year’s Day—really on any day. Here it is. Listen to someone you love. Let me repeat it in case you missed it. Listen to someone you love.
On Thanksgiving Day in 1979 Lois and I had only been married a few months. We were living in an upstairs apartment is an old farmhouse in Pleasant Hill, Ohio. Mom and Dad lived a mile down the road. We would spend Christmas with Lois’ family in Michigan but on Thanksgiving Day we gathered with the Pierpont’s. It was one of the few years that all four of my grandparents were at the same place at the same time. It would be the last. The next October my grandpa Pierpont would be with the Lord and we would drive to Newark for Thanksgiving. Grandma was there without Grandpa. The great heart of our family, our story-teller was no longer with us. Now, twenty-nine Thanksgivings later Grandma Pierpont, Grandma Shipley, and finally Grandpa Shipley have all passed over to be with the Lord.
A few months ago I called my grandfather’s brother Art on the phone. He is way up in years and lives in Beaver Falls, New York. He was full of fascinating memories of my grandfather and their childhood and youth. It was delightful to ask him questions and listen to him. I hungrily wrote down everything he said. I will tell you all those stories in coming months. It was a fascinating conversation.
When our conversation was over I felt a pang that I had not had more conversations with my grandparents while they were still living. What I would give to have a couple hours with each of them, just listening—asking questions and then listening, but I will never be able to do that in this side.
So here is my idea this year. This may have been a very difficult year for you. You may not have what you have had in the past. You may wonder what the future holds. But there is one thing you can do as long as your loved ones are alive. Listen to them. Ask questions and listen. Don’t be bothered if they repeat themselves. This is God’s plan to get you to remember important things. If they repeat something it must be important. Write it down. Ask follow-up questions. Lock it away in your heart.
May God bless you with enough—perhaps even with plenty, and may He allow you some time with people who have stories to tell, and may he give you the wisdom to listen while you can. Be the keeper of the stories. Just ask questions and listen—listen with your eyes and with your heart. Some day you will be glad you did.
November 26, 2009