To the Editor:
Dag Hammarskjold, the late UN Secretary General, offered the world a great number of wise sayings, one of which caught my eye on a pastor’s desk in Raleigh, NC. It read “For all that has been, Thanks! For all that will be, Yes!” It is now “New Year 2014” and a turning point in our lives. It’s time to say “Thanks!” for the past and “Yes!” to the future.
Alex Haley, author of the wonderful book Roots, found himself becoming a bit proud of his many accomplishments A close friend sent Alex a picture of a turtle on a fence. Of course, everyone knows that a turtle cannot climb a fence. Ergo, the obvious question: “How did it get there?” Of course, someone else helped put him there.
Whenever Alex was tempted to excessive pride over his multiple life successes, he looked at the picture and realized that, whatever fame he had attained in life, was partly due to other people, parents, family members, friends, co-workers, teachers, and the like. I believe that all of us should have a picture of a turtle on a fence somewhere in our homes or in our workplace; then, to look at that picture and say “Thank You!” to at least one person who helped us become who we are. We may be surprised at how many we will find.
With a new year now upon us, I would ask us all to consider those people in our lifetime, thus far, who have helped us to be who we are today. Personally, I thank our Triune God for all of His/Her glorious creation, including ourselves.
Also, I must be eternally grateful to my family. They did everything good for me, preparing me to live happily in this world – in body, mind and spirit. To each of them, I loudly say: Thank You!
So, my turtle-like friends, for whom and for what are you grateful? Consider all the people who put you on the fence of life – who helped make you who you are today?
My list would include the following categories of people remembering that there are many (tens, hundreds or even thousands) for some of the larger categories.
1)My/Our Triune God: Father-Son-Holy Spirit; 2) Parents and Family; 3) Clergy and Religious; 4) Teachers and Mentors; 5) Classmates (at all levels); 6) Coaches; 7) Leaders of Music and the Arts; 8)Higher Education Personnel; 9) Pastoral Ministry (including 20 specific communities); 10) Community Related Organizations; 11) Employment Related Entities (including 12 non-pastoral work sites); 12) Prayer Communities; 13) Athletic Relationships; 14) Ongoing Relationships (Family and Relatives).
The Holy Spirit inspires us to give thanks for all those people who have affected our lives down to this very day. Now, we look ahead to anticipate all those who will be there for us, throughout 2014. Consider looking into your own life and explore the many people who have given you a lift up onto your fence? Happy New Year!
Reverend Leo McIlrath
13 Sugarloaf Road, Sandy Hook December 21, 2013