Just so we're clear, I wasn't snapping photos during Sacrament Meeting. I think it was before Sunday School was starting. And I liked the way the light came in. It was just a pretty picture...
I think Thanksgiving is catching up to Easter as my favorite holiday. It's a holiday that demands that people act the better part. Be grateful. Before the madness of Christmas begins--be grateful.
On Sunday, the bishop asked us (the music people) to create a Thanksgiving program. Because Stephanie was going to be in Sweden all month and Cecil is a busy high school music teacher and Christmas is fast approaching--it fell on me to bring things together. I like bringing things together. I like how you start with nothing and how you can plot, plan, collaborate, listen, move and voila! You have something!
We started with the music first. Cecil had a beautiful arrangement of "Because I Have Been Given Much" that he wrote in college. I found two beautiful singers. Stephanie mentioned that we had a flutist and a violinist who wanted to play "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing". Done! I had this song "Jesus Christ the Apple Tree" rolling around in my brain. I wasn't sure how it fit the Thanksgiving theme--Apple Tree=Apple Pie?--but I kept coming back to it. And Cecil and Tiffany chose a beautiful, albeit incredibly difficult, choir song called "Pilgrim Song". Add a congregational song--and you have a program!
I get to assemble the narration for the programs. It's easier to find narration than it is to find music. So I waited until the music was in place to try and fit the narration together.
As I looked for talks and scriptures on Thanksgiving, I came across these words:
ingratitude be numbered among the serious sins, then gratitude takes its place
among the noblest of virtues. Someone has said that “gratitude is not only the
greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” President Thomas S. Monson.
You can't talk about gratitude without really diving into what you're thankful for. So the rest of the narration became about remembering all the things that bring us joy and peace. I found scriptures from Revelations that talk about the peace that will come to those who have suffered. I found scriptures from the Book of Mormon about the Tree of Life and the love of God. I found scriptures that expressed thanksgiving and praise over and over again throughout Psalms.
Thanksgiving helps us to find heaven on earth. We revel in our blessings and experience a breath of contentment that allows us to just enjoy life in this moment. And those moments include gratitude for what was and what will be. Our joy is a state of mind. Can't I find the same joy as I imagine the peace of the future? As a parent watches a child begin to learn, the same feelings of pride exist at the impetus of their learning as exists upon the day of their graduation. The feeling is the same no matter where the event exists on the timeline. Thanksgiving allows us to experience the joys of heaven in the middle of mortality.
It is such a privilege to live here at this time.
I wish I had a recording of our church choir singing "Pilgrim Song". It took everything in me not to cry while singing the song.
"My soul doth long to go where I may truly know, the glory of my Savior. And as I pass along, I'll sing the Christian song, I'm going to live forever."
I hope you have a beautiful Thanksgiving. Enjoy the beautiful things of life tomorrow. From football games, to pie, to laughter, to a good book, to awkward conversation. Just enjoy! Thanksgiving is not a day for planning--but a day for reflection and contentment. Most of all, take a moment to be grateful for yourself--for every part of you that contributes to your joy. Your strong arms, your smile, your eyes, your hands, your brain, your heart. Take a moment to just love yourself and be grateful for the good things about yourself. Rather than making plans to change yourself like we do at New Years--take a moment at Thanksgiving to be grateful for the good things about yourself.
I am grateful for a lot of things this year. It's a little overwhelming to think about the good things in my life right now. But mainly, I'm grateful that our forefathers and foremothers had the good sense to create a day where we get to sit around and think about how good we have it!