Letters to the Editor

Viewpoint: Giving thanks in hard times

There we were, a group of us on a Sunday after church, walking over to the Corner View Restaurant, a favorite spot for brunch. Patty and Bill Carpenter, the owners, were sure to have their signature coffee cake and eggs any way you wanted them. We could sit down under the “Never let the dog guard your lunch” sign and enjoy Patty’s goodwill and secret recipes.

Then, what a shock. The “for lease” sign on the empty building took a while to sink in. Not these two, who work so hard and love what they do! What a loss. It seemed like a personal setback.

Many of us in this community are suffering from the recession. If you are not personally feeling the crunch, you are still diminished with the rest of us when a jewel of a local business (like Patty and Bill’s) is forced to close its doors. We all lose. Add to this a pervasive undercurrent of lack, the heartbreak of endangered or lost homes, the disquieting political polarization and the grief attendant upon all of this. Not an easy time.

And now we’re supposed to give thanks? For what?

Well, if what I understand about the benefits of a grateful heart are true, this is exactly what the doctor ordered — a big dose of thankfulness. No, not thanks for stuff, but for life and breath. For possibilities. For the presence of good in our lives. For the open windows of heaven pouring out a blessing on you so “that there shall not be room enough to receive it” (a promise I cherish from the Book of Malachi).

You may be thinking, that all sounds good, but not very practical. But don’t underestimate the power that comes from acknowledging the good in life.

Here’s how it works: when you’re heavily focused on the sadness, lack or grief in your life, that is your life and what you get to experience. We all can accept that whatever we are looking at in thought enlarges.

Now if you are open to any glimpse, be it large or small, of the good in your life, then you are looking right at a type of substance. This is the real “money in the bank.”

I’m talking about looking for anything strong, useful, cheerful, brave, pleasant, kind, expressing good will — you name it. When we orient ourselves toward good and progress and acknowledge the movement of good in our lives, we are actually looking at substance. There’s healing in this. What’s more, it can prepare us to receive more.

I don’t know them personally, but I’ll bet Patty and Bill are already counting their God-given blessings, right in the face of loss. They can put this loss in the rear view mirror and go on to do something wonderful like another signature restaurant or something completely different. They’ve got the ideas, and there are 1,000 more where that Corner View one came from.

Speaking of good, there is an outstanding event this Sunday afternoon to kick off your Thanksgiving season with a bang. Come and bring your family to the Ministerial Association’s annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Celebration.

The focus is on music and a rich palette of faith communities participate, all praising God with song, prayer and reflection. Travel light and let your prayers and songs do the heavy lifting.

I personally am looking forward this Thanksgiving season to feeling, as Mary Baker Eddy puts it, “the movements of God’s spiritual government encompassing all things.” That would be encompassing me, too. And you, friends.

More info

The Ministerial Association of San Luis Obispo invites the public to a free Interfaith Thanksgiving Celebration at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 21 at the Seventh Day Adventist Church, on the corner of Pacific and Osos streets in San Luis Obispo. A free-will offering will be accepted and donations of nonperishable food items will be collected. For more information, contact Rev. Rich Kurrasch at rkurrasch@gmail.com.

Carol McFall is active in the Christian Science Church in San Luis Obispo and a member of the Ministerial Association of San Luis Obispo.