What can you think of that has made a difference to you this year?
I always thought of Thanksgiving as my favorite holiday. Back in the 80s, the est training, created by the charismatic Werner Erhard, was both very controversial and popular for those seeking answers to “life”. Aside from the “training”, est had many programs that were philanthropic in nature. One was called “The Holiday Project”. Whoever wanted to volunteer agreed to visit hospitals or nursing homes as a group. They would bring holiday cheer in the way of music and song. It was a great way to reach out to seniors who were struggling to stay alive or lonely because they had no visitors. I participated because I wanted to feel a part of something that I had never experienced. It was the first time I had been inside a nursing home since moving to Los Angeles. The only other volunteering experience I had was at a hospital admissions department in New York.
Although est was controversial, I am thankful for this program and thankful that I was a part of that experience, which changed the course of my life!
So this for my family, friends and clients: a little something written by Abigail Van Buren (of Dear Abby fame) about being thankful.
Thursday is Thanksgiving Day, so take a few minutes to think about what you have to be thankful for.
How’s your health? Not so good? Well, thank G-d you’ve lived this long. A lot of people haven’t. You’re hurting? Thousands – maybe millions – are hurting more. (Have you ever visited a veteran’s hospital? Or a hospital for crippled children?)
If you awakened this morning and were able to hear the birds sing, use your vocal cords to utter human sounds, walk to the breakfast table on two good legs and read the newspaper with two good eyes (or even one), praise the Lord! A lot of people couldn’t.
How’s your pocketbook? Thin? Well, most of the world is a lot poorer. No pensions. No welfare. No food stamps. No Social Security. No Medicare. In fact, one-third of the people in the world will go to bed hungry tonight.
Are you lonely? The way to have a friend is to be one. If nobody calls you, pick up the phone and call somebody. Go out of your way to do something nice for somebody. It’s a cure for the blues.
Are you concerned about your country’s future? Hooray! Our system has been saved by such concern. Concern for fair play under the law. If you don’t like your elected officials, you can go to work and vote them out of office. We still have the soapbox and the ballot box. Or would you rather be in Central America, Ethiopia or Afghanistan? (I’ll add – Syria, Libya, Iraq – this list goes on and on since Abby wrote this piece. -LM)
Freedom rings! You can still worship at the church of your choice, or not worship at all. You can cast a secret ballot, even criticize your government without fearing a knock on the head or knock on your door in the middle of the night. (Well, I would agree, as long as it’s done in a non- violent manner).
And if you want to live under a different system, goodbye and good luck! You are free to go.
As a final thought, I’ll repeat my Thanksgiving prayer: perhaps you want to use it at your table this year.
We thank thee for the food and remember the hungry.
We thank thee for health and remember the sick.
We thank thee for friends and remember the friendless.
We thank thee for freedom and remember the enslaved.
May these remembrances stir us to service.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!