“The thankful heart opens our eyes to a multitude of blessings that continually surround us.” James E. Faust
What is it about gratitude that alters everything? Here in the Ponderosa Forest, I never tire of seeing the elk and deer–each siting gives me joy. And Lance’s ability to capture these creatures in action makes for photos worth sharing.
I’ve been researching for my Civil War manuscript and recently came across Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation. Issued on October 20 that year, the text really made me think.
What? Give thanks? Over fifty thousand American soldiers had died at Gettysburg alone that year, plus thousands more in other battles. As Mr. Lincoln noted, many women had become widows…many children orphans.
But he also highlighted the lack of foreign powers involved in our in-fighting–one good thing. And the physical size of the battlefield was shrinking. Progress was still being made in settling the wilderness, as well as in communications (the telegraph and the transcontinental railroad.) Other new inventions had come forth, as well.
Like George Washington and other Presidents before him, Lincoln focused on Thanksgiving in spite of dire circumstances.
In the light of so many losses, it’s amazing that a National Thanksgiving Day even crossed his mind, and it might not have, were it not for one woman, Sarah Josepha Hale, a 74-year-old magazine editor, who wrote to Lincoln on September 28, urging him to have the “day of our annual Thanksgiving made a National and fixed Union Festival.”
His response? He searched for positive news as the nation lumbered on toward eventually ending the war. Realizing how much longer it would take for the South to surrender, we find little comfort here.
But this example of thankfulness in the midst of horror can hearten us…So much suffering still lay ahead, yet President Lincoln led the Union in offering thanks for the good he could find.
No national “turkey pardoning” took place that year. Now, we watch football and pay little attention to Thanksgiving Days of the distant past. But this holiday, as we taste pumpkin pie and all the rest, hopefully we’ll pay a little extra attention to our hearts.
Even with many challenges here and abroad, and a great deal of suffering, we have so very much for which to give thanks.