The medieval German theologian Meister Eckhart (1260-1327) wrote: "If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is 'thank you,' it will be enough."
Here's my list of "thank you's" for the year:
I'm thankful for all the soldiers sitting in holes in the ground half way around the world, trying to protect us without getting killed. May they do both things and return home speedily. Our debt to them can never be fully repaid.
I'm thankful for the people taking care of old sick people in nursing homes. For many of their charges, the smiles they receive from their helpers are the only ones they'll see on Thanksgiving. May those smiles be enough to keep their hope alive.
I'm thankful for cops and firemen. We're safe at home because of them and none of us know the fear they must overcome to do their jobs. May they not know fear today.
I'm thankful for teachers who work in failing schools. Many of the kids they teach have no realistic chance to achieve the American dream, but still they teach and never give up. May we never give up on them.
I'm thankful for teenage girls who are not ashamed to show they're smart. They're too often bombarded with the message that their only hope is to be beautiful, promiscuous and dumb. I smile every time they raise their hands in class to give the right answer.
I'm thankful for the people who work in soup kitchens, safe houses and shelters. Many people would have no food and no place to sleep were it not for these warm havens of safety and care.
I'm thankful for Muslims who speak out against the jihadist terrorists. There are more of these courageous people than we hear about on the news, and often their brave words are not reported at all. They are redeeming their faith, and redeeming our hope that somehow, someday, with them leading the way, we'll all find a way through this time of terror.
I'm thankful for the people who are inventing amazing stuff that will make our lives healthier, more productive, cleaner, easier and much more fun. They prove that you can do well by doing good.
I'm thankful for the people on TV who deserve to be there. There are too many personalities on television for no discernible reason other than the fact that they're beautiful, rich, or both. Occasionally we're blessed to see people who are true heroes, sages, artists, or leaders, and without TV and the Internet we'd never know about them.
I'm thankful for the people care for abandoned dogs and cats. Animals are vulnerable and needy, and those wandering the streets are even more vulnerable. Saving them is holy work, and adopting them is even more holy. The animals who walk on two feet must care for those who walk on four.
I'm thankful for poor people who still give to charity. They know that despite their difficult circumstances, every day they draw a breath, their blessings exceed their burdens.
I'm thankful for all my fellow clergy. Most of them are just trying to bring faith, hope and charity to their flocks. It's hard to be a good shepherd but they try, and if they fail, they try again. I love them for trying to do holy work in a world that often just doesn't give a hoot. I'm proud to be among them.
I'm thankful that Fr. Tom is still alive and can still smile at me.
I'm thankful for pie.
And most of all, I'm thankful that even though we sometimes give up on God, God never gives up on us.