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Grace Notes - Thankful in the darkness

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By Brenda Locklear

 Nancy Kennedy

Editor’s note: This is the 20th year of Nancy Kennedy’s annual Thanksgiving psalm. She is still thankful. We typically run Nancy’s column on the religion page, but with Nancy collecting a list of things to be thankful for, even during a difficult year, it seemed like it might be an inspiration as people around the county and the nation recount their reasons to celebrate Thanksgiving.

 

Dear God,

As you know, I’ve had a difficult time starting this year’s Thanksgiving psalm.

Life hasn’t been sunshine and roses and rainbow-colored unicorns this year, not for me and not for a lot of people. And yet, I have much to be thankful for.

Thank you, Lord, for being a shelter in difficult times, a soft place where I find comfort, a rock and solid foundation when the world around me shakes and crumbles.

In my kitchen, next to my husband’s desk, is the framed beginning of Psalm 91: “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’”

This year especially I have known the comfort of your shelter.

Thank you, Lord, for the promises in your word, promises that you go with me into hard places, that you give me your strength when I have none of my own.

This year especially I have also known that I can “be still and know that you are God,” that I can sleep peacefully at night because you never sleep, are always at work fighting my battles, caring for those I love whom I cannot help.

Thank you, Lord, for friends who pray when I have no more words. Thank you also for new friends who have helped me more than they know, new friends who have given me a new purpose.

Thank you also for little things that make me smile: hugs from people at church who know I’m not a hugger but also know how much I need their hugs, also for the way Harry Austin’s face lights up when he talks about something delicious that he’s eaten.

Thank you for “This is Us” and eggplant sandwiches on a Saturday afternoon, for tart cherry Popsicles, plum-colored eyeliner and our friend Randy’s homemade pineapple-filled coconut cake.

Thank you, Lord, that you don’t give up on people, that no one is too far gone for you to rescue, that you turn “dust into diamonds” and make ugly lives beautiful.

Thank you, Lord, for hope.

Lord, you know my heart. You know the things that hurt. You also know that these very things that have caused me so much anguish are also the very things I’ve needed so I could see and feel and experience your great love for me, your great mercy and kindness and intimate care נand your great faithfulness.

You have grown me and have shown me that you, indeed, are God and I am not נand that’s no longer a problem for me (at least not today).

I know it sounds crazy, but I sincerely am thankful for this past year, as difficult as it has been. For if life were all sunshine and roses and rainbow-colored unicorns, I would not seek you because I would not know that I need you, and I would not know that your hand holding me in the darkness is enough to make my heart sing.

So, thank you, Lord. Amen.

Nancy Kennedy is the author of “Move Over, Victoria - I Know the Real Secret,” “Girl on a Swing,” and her latest book, “Lipstick Grace.” She can be reached at 352-564-2927 or via email at nkennedy@chronicleonline.com.