NOVEMBER 22, 1998

Beth Graham in her Thanksgiving Prayer reiterates the fact that we are a lucky people. We are indeed. Everyone in this room has a place they can call home. Many people in this nation and world do not. Everyone here has enough physical and material resources to meet their essential needs for survival with plenty to spare. Many do not. Everyone here has sufficiency of family and friends who care about them, love them, accept them, and support them in good times and bad. There are some people who have barely a friend in the world and no one to turn to when the going gets rough. There is not one of us who needs to fear for his or her safety when we lay our heads upon the pillow in the still of the night. There are too many in this world who worry that they might be driven from their homes by exploding shells or gunfire or by marauding mobs of organized violence. These are not matters that we worry much about. We have enough wealth to meet our needs, enough food and clothing and shelter to ensure our survival. We are a lucky people indeed.

I recall the time I was showing our house on the Cape to a ministerial colleague. Our deck overlooks an acre of marsh on the Swan Pond River in West Dennis. Even though we only get to stay in our place a couple weeks out of the year--the rest of the time it is rented--at least we are comforted by the fact that we will have a place to retire to someday. A number of my colleagues and friends in the UU ministry own neither the house they are living in where they minister, nor do they have a place to retire to when that time comes. My colleague in the ministry that day is one of those people. She took one look at our future home and surroundings and said to me, "Dick Fewkes, do you know how lucky you are?" The truth is, I do, but to be honest, sometimes I forget.

I remember one night a couple of summers ago when the moon was out and the angle of the moonlight on the Swan Pond River made it look like flowing phosphorescence. It only lasted a few minutes, but it was a magic few minutes, then the angle changed as the moon rose a few degrees in the sky, and the phosphorescent river of light became an ordinary river again. But I had to admit that the ordinary was pretty extraordinary in itself. I felt inordinately blessed beyond measure. "Dick Fewkes, do you know how lucky you are?" Yes, but sometimes I forget.

A good question for all of us to ponder. Do you know how lucky you are? Do you have your health? Do you have eyes to see with, ears to hear with, hearts to love with? Can you see and appreciate the beauty of the world around you in nature and in art, can you enjoy the wonder of reading a good book, or watching a stimulating movie or play, or listen to a live concert or CD symphony? Can you walk or exercise or play a musical instrument, or participate in a sport you enjoy, or play a game of chess, or sit at your computer and communicate with someone on the other side of the globe? Do you know how lucky you are?

Are you blessed with friends and family who love you, really love you, warts and all, who don't throw you out of the house when you get angry or upset or take a fit over something petty and small? Can you put food on the table and not have to worry where your next meal is coming from? Do you have a job? Can you get up and go to work? There are many who cannot. Do you have the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of your labor or to get away for a respite of rest and relaxation once in awhile? Can you sing and hum and laugh and cry and know that life is the most wondrous gift of all though you may never know why? Do you know how lucky you are?

Dear God, sometimes we forget how fortunate and blessed we have been and are. Help us to remember and be thankful, not just for the miraculous moments of shimmering beauty passing before our eyes, but for the extraordinary ordinary people and events that touch our lives day after day. If we forget, and we all do, may we be called to the beauty of an ancient New England Meeting House where we may thank our lucky stars for the gift of life and the gift of our being together in wonder and worship. Amen.