Sunday, December 14, 2014

Scratched and Dented 7

In case you are tuning in late, this post is part of a series refurbishing dreadful hymns that I wrote when I was in high school or college. It consists of a metrical paraphrase of the Athanasian Creed that I actually submitted for publication in a hymnal - which, however, printed a different (and probably better) execution of the same idea by a certain Henry Bartels, whom I once had the honor to meet. His version, if memory serves, begins with the line "Whoever would be saved" and is set to the tune MEIN SCHOEPFER, STEH MIR BEI. Mine was written in a less fortunate meter and had to be set to a tune of my own composition, which I no longer consider share-worthy. So one of my aims in updating this paraphrase is to adjust the meter so it can be sung to a better tune. Actually making it a hymn worth singing in worship may be beyond my powers, especially since the custom in most churches is to confess this creed at most once or twice a year. Oh, well! For what it's worth:

Athanasian Creed Hymn

He who would be saved must hold
To the holy Christian faith
Or incur eternal death.
Now this is the faith of old:
God the Lord is Three in One,
Father, Holy Ghost and Son.
Hailing Him the Trinity,
We uphold His unity;
Essence one yet Persons three
We confess with certainty.

Of the Father there is one;
One Son on the mercy-seat;
One the Holy Paraclete.
Each is fully God alone,
Lord unmade and infinite,
Timeless each, and full of might.
Yet our God and Lord is one;
Uncreate, eternal - one;
Infinite, almighty - one;
Altogether, only one!

While in Christian truth must we
Call each Person God and Lord,
No untruth is so abhorred
As to say three gods there be.
God the Father, made of naught,
Ere the world or time was wrought
Sired His uncreated Seed;
Son and Father, one indeed,
One in force, in will agreed,
Caused the Spirit to proceed.

Lest in error we be caught,
We affirm one Lord to be:
But one Father, never three,
Nor three Sons but one is taught,
And one Ghost, no more nor less.
Thus we heartily confess
Equally, eternally
Each Person full God to be;
For without the Trinity
No flesh would salvation see.

Likewise, he who would be saved
Must correctly understand
How God's Son became a man.
Out of love the Father gave
His Son into sin's domain,
That He might destroy death's reign.
Mary's Son is God and Man;
He who laid creation's plan
Breathed our air and walked the land,
Sinless bore God's chiding hand.

Substance of His Father, now
Born into His mother's flesh,
Born in time from timelessness,
Mortals cannot fathom how
Perfect Godhead ever can
Join Himself to perfect Man:
Joined to human flesh and soul,
Less than God as man below,
Equal to the Father's whole:
Yet such is the Christ we know.

Christ is One, yet not because
God into a man was made;
Manhood into God assayed
To fulfill as man God's laws,
That as all-sufficient Lamb
God might die for sinful man.
As men's souls in flesh abide
Are these natures unified;
Even after He had died,
God and Man could none divide.

Jesus suffered for our sin
And descended into hell,
His completed work to tell;
He arose and rules in heav'n,
Whence He shall return with dread
To arraign both quick and dead.
All shall rise, their works to tell,
Some for sentencing to hell,
Those who trust in Christ to dwell
Where, with Him, all will be well.

Scratched and Dented 5

Still more hymns from my college poetry album of the mid-1990s, somewhat refurbished. Note that the posts are numbered out of order because this was saved as a draft when I posted the sixth installment. Oops!

Exsurgat Deus (Psalm 68)

Let God arise! He routs the foe,
That those who hate Him flee in their distress;
They melt as wax, as smoke they blow,
Choosing destruction over righteousness.

They cling to works, disparage grace,
Themselves they judge unfit for life in heaven;
So are they judged, though in their place
Once and for all a ransom had been given.

Therefore rejoice, His name exalt,
All who are righteous in the Father's sight!
He sees in you no stain or fault,
By His Lamb's blood made blemishless and bright.

Through Him forgiveness is declared.
By Moses can no flesh be justified,
But those who trust in Christ are spared,
Receiving life from Him who for them died.

By grace alone, O Lord, we trust!
By faith alone can we this gift receive.
Through Christ alone, bowed to the dust,
We beg your pardon and in hope believe.

Freedom Song

Our salvation is God's will!
Let no tongue or heart be still;
All the world with praise must fill,
For our salvation is God's will.

We are loosed from Satan's chains
By our Savior's mortal pains;
Tell him, tell him who complains
That we are loosed from Satan's chains!

What should make the Christian mourn,
Now our veil of gloom is torn?
Christ has blunted death's sharp thorn,
So what should make the Christian mourn?

Jesus Christ has set us free!
When He comes in glory, we
In our flesh His day shall see,
For Jesus Christ has set us free!

Sign or Norm

If I must have some sign or norm
Upon my heart impressed,
Let me to Your pure Word conform;
Your will, Lord, is the best.

All men live in conformity
To patterns of some kind;
Dear Savior from eternity,
Pray make Your mercy mine.

If I must be some master's slave,
And if my will be bound,
From Satan's chains, Lord Jesus, save;
Let me in You be found.

My will enslaved to Yours, O God,
Your Spirit to obey -
What joy! that cleansed by Jesus' blood,
I'd serve You night and day!

Your cross shall be my daily guide,
My model and my stay.
By faith I would in You abide;
Permit it, Lord, I pray!

If I must have a resting-place,
An endless home somewhere,
I know a house built by Your grace;
Dear Savior, lead me there!

Law and Gospel Hymn

Thank God, His word shall never fail:
Both chast'ning rod and suit of mail,
Whereby He batters me with threats
And sets me free from all my debts.

Had I not felt His Law's reproach,
No grace my icy heart could broach;
But once it crushed me to the ground,
How sweet became the Gospel's sound!

Built on this Rock, what will I fear?
The devil cannot steal my cheer.
His wiles are but an empty jest;
In this true Rock is all my rest.

I lift my voice to Christ the Lord,
Repeating all that I have heard:
His voice of thunder, dread and might
Becomes my refuge and delight.

With this Bread I am satisfied;
Filled with His fullness I'll abide.
This living Water, fresh and pure,
Shall be my thirst's eternal cure.

Dear Word that kills and makes alive,
Both wounds and heals, I now derive
A life worth living, full and free:
Not of myself, but Christ in me!

Magnificat Hymn

Soul, declare: The Lord is great!
Spirit, praise your mighty guest!
He has seen His servant's state;
All the world will call me blest!

Let all men His mercy sing:
Holy is God's name! For He
Has done such a mighty thing,
Such a mighty thing for me!

Mercy He returns for fear
Faithfully from age to age;
He shows favor to the poor,
All their hunger to assuage.

Pride He routs in its conceit;
Humble ones He lifts on high.
Kings He topples from their seat,
Rich ones' wealth He sends awry.

He gives plenty to the poor,
None to selfish hypocrites.
He rewards His servants for
Trusting in His promises.

Thus He spoke to men of old
Through the fathers' covenant,
And the ancient prophets told
Of the Savior lately sent.

Even Abram's sons are we
By the faith we now confess,
Trusting God eternally,
Credited with righteousness.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Scratched and Dented 6

I continue going through my college (mid-1990s) poetry album and airbrush some of the theological and literary enormities out of them. Here are a few more...

Inheritance Hymn

Son from on high, of all things the Heir,
Maker of all, creating Word:
Under our flesh You humbly appeared;
No lie Your lips have spoken,
Yet our bad faith and sin You bear,
Willingly bleeding and broken.

Through this last testament in Your love
Triumph and life to us bequeath!
Seal our inheritance by Your death,
Our Kinsman and Defender!
All record of our sins remove,
All Your good legacy tender!

Palm Sunday Hymn

We welcome You, who humbly enter,
Crying hosanna, save us!
Hail to the King, in whom now center
All that the prophets gave us!
On a young donkey mounted
You ride in vict'ry and acclaim;
When the last hail is sounded
Will You establish Your great reign?

What steed is this for One so daunting,
Coming to save our nation?
Can He indeed bear shame and taunting
Who owns so high a station?
Deathward You ride, all-knowing,
Destined for Calv'ry's bloody hill;
Under the lashes bowing,
Can You be Lord and Victor still?

This week defeat and anguish gory
Shall be Your love's repayment;
Therefore why come You as in glory,
Though clad in humble raiment?
Here waits Your strife laborious,
Death but the last foe You will face;
When you arise victorious,
Lead us to dwell in You by grace!

Job 3:20-26 Hymn

Why then has the light been given
To the sore and bitter soul,
Longing for a rest from living
And all trouble, care and toil;
Digging for it as for gold,
Joying when the grave's sure hold
Quenches pain at last?

Why then has this life been given
Him whose way is ever hidd'n?
Do I not roar as a river?
Do I not wax feeble, thin?
All my dreads are coming true;
Days of ease are precious few
Ere the crisis comes!

Now amid the deepest shadows
My way through dark vales has turned;
Yet the Lord counts all my sorrows,
Lets none steal what He has earned.
I know my Redeemer lives!
Though my flesh worm-fodder gives,
I shall see His face!

Citadel Hymn

Almighty God, unto Your flock
Send shepherds plenty, bold and true,
That Your strong Word may be our rock.
While calling many, choosing few,
Your Word returns not void to You.
Lord shatter every stumbling block
The foe would lay upon our walk;
For faithful teachers, Christ, we sue.

Lord, turn the heathen from the grave,
And raise the worldly from their sleep;
The weak and foolish also save!
Dear Father, both forgive and keep
All who for strength and mercy weep.
For Jesus' sake, both Lord and slave,
We trust one seed: the Word He gave.
What You have planted, likewise reap!

Preserve Your church from all discord;
Let every heart in peace obey!
Lord, still the tongues that mock Your word,
For You are with us all the way.
As You in death's vile durance lay,
Yet rose, we too shall be restored;
So let Your grace on us be poured,
And send with haste that shining day!

All breathing life must sing and shout
The news that every tongue must tell;
And when the tidings have gone out,
Even the very powers of hell
Cannot the love of God dispel.
Astonish all the foe, and rout
The sneering armies round about;
Your Word, Lord, is our citadel!

Another Wedding Feast Hymn (Romans 6-7)

O Bridegroom, I await Your feast,
And long to see it ushered in;
I thirst and hunger for a taste,
Famished without and parched within.

Of Sin's vast table, spread worldwide,
I want not, yet I daily take;
Help me, my Bridegroom crucified,
To spurn her doubly poisoned cake!

Her first taint sours me to Your law;
Each morsel sears my conscience more.
Disgorging grace, Sin's second flaw,
Mocks and forgets the wounds You bore.

O wretched creature that I am!
Where must deliverance be found?
Praise to the slain yet living Lamb,
With whose pure righteousness I'm crowned!

You, Bridegroom, baptized in my shame,
Bore on the cross my guilt and sin;
So I am baptized in Your name,
Buried with You and raised again!

In You I can do anything;
To sin I'm dead, to Satan slain.
The world, the flesh yet daily bring
Their fatal charms to bear again.

What vigil can I keep for You
When sins, O Bridegroom, so abound?
But thanks, O faithful God, to You,
My guilt and death are also drowned.

Today Your blody and Your blood
Both heal my flesh and feed my soul;
Today I taste the heavenly food,
Tomorrow You will feed me full.

As You now live in me, I pray,
Let me so live in You, till I,
Kept in Your faith by grace each day,
Wake to Your banquet in the sky!

Out of Oz

Out of Oz
by Gregory Maguire
Recommended Ages: 14+

The final volume of The Wicked Years concludes a quartet of books set in the Oz universe created by children's author L. Frank Baum. Maguire, whose first book in this series inspired a popular stage musical, only thanks Baum in passing in an afterword, not to say an afterthought, following the acknowledgments at the end of this book. If it does not seem to me a very gracious expression of indebtedness to the creator of Oz, particularly after forcing his world of lighthearted nonsense to carry the burden of a very dark and very adult fantasy, it at least isn't as ungracious as Frank Beddor's reimagining of Wonderland, which casts Lewis Carroll as a mild pervert who got the story wrong. But I sense that both series come from approximately the same place: a feeling of grievance against the inherent falsehood of storytelling as traditionally practiced, combined with an ironic realization that the point is best made by building on its tropes. In another irony, both authors seem to find inspiration for their most original creations in the work of previous authors. This suggests their grievance may be misplaced, and a little more gratitude may be in order.

I suppose, though, one might also read gratitude toward Baum between the lines of this quartet. What Maguire has done here could be regarded as an homage, honoring the world Baum created by making it deeper, bigger, more complex and true to life. It's all a matter of how you read his tells. One tell may be the way he portrays Dorothy as an irritating misfit. Dorothy returns in this book, six years later in Kansas time and eighteen years later in Oz time, a little sadder but not much wiser, and finds herself on trial for her life for the murder of the Wicked Witch of the East. Separatist Munchkinland is at war with the rest of Oz, and both sides are having a rough time of it, and nothing boosts morale at a time of national crisis like a nice, juicy show trial.

The war ultimately hinges on the shoulder joints of dragons, which in turn hinge on the binding of a book of magic called the Grimmerie, which both sides want in order to get the upper, er, wing. Committed to keeping the book out of the wrong hands (namely, whichever side of the war would use it against the other) is a mismatched group of outsiders: the Cowardly Lion and his human wife, Elphaba's grown-up son Liir and his wife Candle, the dwarf who curates the prophetic Clock of the Time Dragon, and a runaway from a religious community who remembers the first time Dorothy arrived in Oz. They are joined by a silent, strange girl named Rain, and later by a boy named Tip whose true identity you should already know if you've read Baum's Oz books. I won't spoil the revelation here, except to note that it's even more awkward and painful than what Baum fans may recall.

Glinda is in this book too, in a segment that dramatizes the grimness of military occupation, and so are many other characters from earlier in the series. Maguire seems to have taken great pains to find all the loose ends from the first three books and tie them all up, to the extent his philosophy of story allows. In his acknowledgements he mentions someone who helped him index the first three books, which sounds like a bright idea for the author of a complex, multi-volume epic. Other familiar touches will include his riffs on Oz catch-phrases such as, "There's no place like home," and his love-knows-no-gender brand of explicit sexuality that earns an emphatic Adult Content Advisory.

In spite of himself, however, Maguire tells what turns out to be his most satisfying story in the series. His commitment to blowing up the reader's expectation of a tidy ending somehow doesn't prevent him from crafting a tale in which a raft of moving pieces come together in a well-timed climax and a convincing solution to the magical problems that afflict a magical world. And though he doesn't tell us that anyone lives happily ever after, the chance that they may find happiness somehow, sometime, remains. And that, in Maguire's storytelling space as well as the real world, is about as much as we can really hope for.

Thursday, December 11, 2014


Doesn't this look gorgeous? It's my stepmom's recipe for Italian salad. We whipped it up this morning so I could take it to the office Christmas party this afternoon. It's got cauliflower, broccoli, red onion, grape tomatoes, whole black olives, mushrooms and Italian dressing in it. Simple, but yummy!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Notes of Interest 4

The November numbers of my personal column in the weekly newspaper of Stover, Mo., The Morgan County Press...

The Veterans Day column

My father is a veteran. He served in the Air Force during part of the Vietnam conflict, but was stationed in the U.S. and did not experience combat.

My Grandpa Fish was a veteran who served in Korea. He was discharged very shortly before the Korean War broke out.

I thought about making a joke like, “He must have been really good. Look what happened as soon as he left the service.” But I won’t. Forget I mentioned it.

My grandfather on my mother’s side was in the army corps of engineers during World War II. He served his country in Germany, chiefly by digging ditches and helping build a pontoon bridge across the Rhine.

He once spent a long evening telling me about all his experiences in the war, in which two of his brothers also served. They both came back alive, though one brother was wounded in action and the other spent time in a prisoner of war camp.

As for Gramps, his most exciting moment of action was having a shot fired at him while he was on sentry duty. The culprit turned out to be a poacher hiding in the woods nearby.

My stepmother’s late father, who ended up being my last living grandparent, was a cook in the U.S. Navy. He was also a very picky eater. I somehow imagine the two circumstances were connected.

I never served in the armed forces. But I have always felt proud of my father and grandfathers who served. I treasure the memory of listening to my maternal grandfather tell his war stories. I regret that I never took time to hear my other grandfathers tell theirs.

Playing at soldiers is a time honored pastime for both boys and, increasingly now, girls. It’s an exercise of imagination that has a subtle but important impact on our world.

As children imagine themselves being honorable, brave, and disciplined soldiers, they create the possibility that such rare and precious beings will exist for another generation. They create the potential for heroism in our time.

Kids used to play those games in the back yard with brooms for guns, old boxes for forts, the neighbor kids for recruits, and maybe firecrackers to make a bang. Now they play them on computer consoles with online friends they may never meet in person. But the principle is the same. Play is the handmaid of knowledge.

Stover’s American Legion post represents the sort of real-life experience that active, imaginative kids can only make believe about. What would happen if the kids were to sit down with the veterans and listen to them tell it like it was? Imagine what they could imagine then.

Their war games might be so much richer. Their make-believe might teach them to believe in so much more. And their actions as adults, shaped by the stories that inspired them, may ensure the older generation’s sacrifices will not be in vain.

The Deer Season column

Here is a morbid oversimplification: When the Fed wants to increase the money supply and lower interest rates, it buys treasury bonds. When it wants to decrease the one and raise the other, it sells them.

It must be an awfully complex and delicate operation, keeping inflation and interest rates just so. Overcorrect in one direction and the economy is stifled. Let it run unrestrained the other way and a speculation bubble could swell up and burst all over us.

The Missouri Department of Conservation has a similar delicate, complex operation on its hands as it manages the population of deer and other game.

Too much hunting of one species, or too little of another, could throw off the balance between predators and prey, or between different kinds of animals competing for the same food.

Weather, disease, and crop yields each can throw a wild card on the play. These factors often take effect on short notice.

Yet somehow MDC needs to plan months ahead, maybe even years, when and where to allow which species to be hunted by what methods, how many licenses will be available in each area, and what the limits will be.

Here I’m guessing a little. My guesses are based on reading the calendar of hunting seasons in Missouri. But I guess whatever the resource an organization must manage, the job is a similarly tippy, slippy, moment-to-moment balancing act.

That’s why, I guess, the firearms season is so short. The main firearms hunting season for deer is Nov. 15-25 - just 11 days. Compare that to the four months of archery deer hunting from Sept. 15 to Jan. 1, interrupted only by the firearms portion.

It’s all about how fast MDC wants the deer killed. It’s about selling a raft of white-tail treasury bonds, thinning the monetary supply and raising the lending rates - only the coin in this market has antlers. Sometimes.

A lot of folks benefit from hunting season. The hunters themselves are only the start of it. They get male bonding time, or increasingly female bonding. They get a breath of fresh air and time away from the regular grind. They get to practice a skill most of us take for granted. They’ll be the most apt to survive if the day comes when getting food is no longer as simple as driving to the store.

But then there’s the rest of us. There are the kids learning to use guns safely and responsibly. Besides being good exercise for their muscles, veins, and nerves, this early training may also help make our homeland safer from foreign foes and local creeps. That’s a plus for all of us.

The turkeys, too, may be thankful for firearms deer time. Gun hunters already had a shot at them in October. And now, as deer and turkey archery takes a pause for firearms deer, the gobblers get a reprieve.

But just wait until later this month. They won’t be the ones giving thanks then.

Landmarks and Memory

A reader named Willa Toon from Stover recently wrote to share some memories of her childhood in the area. Some details in her note sparked ideas, in her words, “from a child’s memory from a long time ago.”

In one example, Toon wrote of visiting the graves of her grandparents and sister in the Stover cemetery, “in the older part toward the back.” Her family visited the graves annually to place flowers, “finding the gravesites by the well pump and the very big tree.”

Later, Toon wrote of when her father showed her the home where he grew up. “Memory could play tricks on me here,” she said, “but it is the only house near the area he drove by that had two doors on the front.”

I thank Toon for her reflections. They inspired me to think about the way details of place become landmarks not only for the eye but also for the memory.

In rural Crosby, Minn., the bus that drove me to high school took me past the home of the longtime city band director. His yard was fronted by a five-rail fence with musical notes attached. They spelled the tune to the words: “Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home.”

The signs aren’t always so elegantly coded. Anybody who has passed through St. Louis since about 1965 has probably spotted the 630-foot-tall Gateway Arch. It’s more or less a sign saying: “Welcome to the Louisiana Purchase.”

At the other end of the state, I used to hang my hat in the bedroom community of Platte City, known to travelers along the I-29 corridor as the home of the orange water tower. The eye-catching landmark serves as a reminder to stop for fuel, food, and a potty break before entering or leaving the Kansas City area.

The middle of Missouri has its share of landmarks to remember. The most likely to come to most people’s minds is Hermann (or Arminius) the German, whose statue stands in downtown Hermann, commemorating a hero who defeated a Roman legion in the year 9 A.D.

The painted steel apple at the highway junction in Versailles is a less famous example. Honestly, though, you’ll probably spot the crossing without its help.

Every day on Highway 5 between Gravois Mills and Versailles I pass a rocket made out of 55-gallon drums. Deborah McCarty tells me it has stood in front of McCarty Sales LLC on and off for approximately four years, at least during the season when the shop sells fireworks. Before that it belonged to a church in Sunrise Beach that used to sell fireworks. Its message is basically: “Loud bangs sold here.”

I’ve been wondering about the big green thumb on Highway 52 between Versailles and Stover. I may have to drop in one day and ask in person, because the phone number listed for the place is out of service.

A lot of interesting spectacles are tucked between Stover and Laurie. Often as I drive along Highway 135, I smile at the fence made of brightly painted bed rails.

Farther off the beaten trail are two sites of interest on Road 135-3. One that gives the road its other name, Cup Tree Drive, is a tall oak stump covered in mugs, its origin and meaning shrouded in mystery. The other is a fence that collects shoes, singly and in pairs, many of them signed by their donors in memory of some milestone in their lives.

The shoe fence and the cup tree have been written up before. I found a 2007 story about them in the online archives of Rural Missouri magazine.

What other landmarks in the Stover area should I know about? Maybe, as news slows down for the winter, I can make time for a pilgrimage.

The Thanksgiving column

“Welcome.” “Invite.” “Congratulate.” What do these words have in common? Answer: They’re all no-nos in the newspaper business.

As I skid crazily around the learning curve of weekly newspaper style, these taboos are among the most surprising and vexing kinks in the road.

You don’t have to tell me it sounds odd. I know it does. But in a news story those words are verboten, gauche, not done, the kiss of death.

Why? Evidently because they take away from the sense of the journalist’s objectivity. They are not verifiable fact. They imply an opinion. They insert the writer into the story instead of letting it shine transparently through. They belong to an editorial column or perhaps a paid ad.

For similar reasons, one does not say in a news story that the weather was fine, unless a meteorological expert can be quoted as a source. One does not say everyone enjoyed a delicious meal unless every diner was polled and the opinion was unanimous.

“Thank” is another word like that. But I could hardly write a sentence about Thanksgiving without it.

Some people aren’t comfortable with Thanksgiving. They think it implies a belief in God and, therefore, establishes religion. But it’s not a church holiday. It’s a public one. If you consider where the Thanksgiving holiday came from, you might observe something interesting about the nature of thanks.

American folklore teaches, perhaps wrongly, that the national tradition of Thanksgiving started with the Puritan pilgrims in Plymouth, Mass., sharing a harvest meal with their Native American neighbors.

Days of thanksgiving were proclaimed church by church, and state by state, in the early years of the American republic, especially around the end of the War for Independence and key anniversaries of our nation’s beginning.

Our first national day of thanksgiving was proclaimed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863, at the bloodiest phase of the war between the states.

The current date of Thanksgiving, on the fourth Thursday in November, was set in 1941 by President Franklin Roosevelt, slap between the Great Depression and World War II.

What all these milestones in the history of Thanksgiving have in common was that they were hard times for our nation’s people. The pilgrims were cold and hungry, far from home and developed civilization. The folks of Washington’s and Lincoln’s times were worn down by war and death. The people of Roosevelt’s time had spent over a decade struggling with disappointment and uncertainty.

It’s as though the impulse to give thanks comes not from fullness, prosperity, and security, but from feelings of loss and need.

I am thankful that my computer crashed after I finished the first version of this article. I lost every word I had written. I was unhappy at the time. But I think a better story was the result.

I am thankful that when I was in need and on the verge of desperation, good and kind people stepped forward and helped.

Times are better now, but I will not soon forget to feel thankful.

I am thankful to be part of a community that tries in so many ways to care for people in need. Since one of the poorest areas in the State of Missouri lies within the readership of this newspaper, I suspect there are a lot of people who share that sentiment.

I suspect they know how to feel thankful, since they also know how hunger feels.

I suspect they know the humbling sensation of depending on others, of having to accept charity, of not being able to provide for themselves. Humility is a handmaid to thankfulness.

I suspect they know what many of us too easily forget. We’re not owed everything we have or want or need. When we can get it, it’s good. It’s almost a miracle, even.

When that miracle happens, the greatest blessing is to know it. That suggests that the people who have a sense of thankfulness also have the most to give thanks for.