What was I thankful for?

Published 10:16 am Wednesday, November 28, 2018

by Charles Qualls

Thanksgiving has come and gone. The earliest pangs of hunger for Advent’s grace are just about to be satisfied. I hope you had a good holiday, by whatever standards you would judge one to be good.

There is a small part of me that resists a scheduled or greeting card-sponsored season of thanks. Mostly, though, the whole thing works for me as I hope it would for most of you. I truly do, just about every year, find myself reflecting a little more at Thanksgiving.   

The word “blessed” comes to mind, in all of its most positive and real applications. So, what all seems to make me feel blessed this year? 

Our gratefulness was kindled anew last week as a fellowship hall full of church members gathered for the annual Thanksgiving dinner.

Full, as in we had to add a few tables to an already stout room after we started. The buzz in the air that night had energy and a good feel. 

Also on that evening, our Christmas “Angel Tree” had started out full of tags. All were taken. Eighty-five individuals will be helped significantly this season because of our congregation’s generosity at the dinner. That’s thrilling to be part of.

Thinking about our area, Franklin has embraced us as a couple. We don’t take that for granted. When we are out in town, people speak to us and welcome us. Business owners are learning that we will be loyal, and they call us by name.

We are finding a lot of people roughly our age in Franklin that have accepted us as friends. Other dear friends aren’t quite as close to us in age, but are cherished all the same. A lot of these folks are in our church, which means we get to see them often. What a gift.    

Both of us have workplaces we look forward to going to, tasks that matter and co-workers we value highly. Those are not small things, and they make life more complete.

The Rotary Club of Franklin is the third Rotary I have joined over the years of my career. Add in the Buckhead Business Association I was a part of in Atlanta, and this is the fourth business/civic group I have been a part of. Fridays there always bring an interesting or informative program. This group is super generous, giving to causes that matter. The best part, though, is the people. Nowhere have I laughed as easily nor as much as I do on Fridays at Rotary. 

Downtown’s revitalization remains a headline story this year. People are trickling in to live downtown and new businesses are opening. We can stroll the sidewalks and pop in and out of doors to boutiques and restaurants. 

Our church recently blessed the creation of “Faith on Draft,” and the opening crowd was robust and eager as we met to discuss our faith in a relaxing environment at Fred’s.

Back at home, our aging parents are well taken care of for the time being. That was easily the toughest aspect of our move here, leaving them behind in this stage of life.

Milestone birthdays have been celebrated. My Dad still knew who I was on my last visit, though his memory fades.

My brother has completed cancer treatments and appears to be in remission. He tolerated a brutal process as well as could be expected. Nowadays, he works full time again and rides his bicycle a few miles most nights. Life is fragile and precious. 

There are other things that lend quality to life. We are discovering more and more natural beauty in this region. Fresh produce is easy to source. A “traffic jam” means that I am the sixth car at the traffic light.  My neighbor knows that I spend way too many nights down at the church, yet it doesn’t feel nosy. I am surrounded in my work by creative lay-leaders who have honed their skills in Franklin’s business world. 

Most of all, I am loved by people who simply don’t have to, forgiven by people who could choose to do otherwise and included by people who have other options. The grace in this represents the very best of what God is all about.

I am learning again that life is rich if not perfect. Joy is a choice we make, just as thankfulness is a mindset as much as it is about being noticeably fortunate. Thanksgiving shines a light on what truly is, if we let it. On balance, I am glad for that light.

DR. CHARLES QUALLS is senior pastor at Franklin Baptist Church. Contact him at 562-5135.