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Thanksgiving reflections (11/18/2007)
By Janet Lewis Burns
Judge success by the degree that you're enjoying peace, friendship, health, and love"¦then thank someone. It's been said that a man is tallest when on his knees.

The things we take for granted here in our bountiful, primarily peaceful, and scenic Midwest would be treasures beyond measure to those less fortunate. Do we appreciate those invisible individuals who have played a role in the comfortable life of freedoms and conveniences we are enjoying here?

As we realize what a powerful influence someone has had on our lives by their virtuous example, do we acknowledge the individual with a letter, a phone call, or a personal visit?

Suffering, the Buddhists believe, is the human condition. Often it is through our illnesses that we find the strength and wisdom that make us more virtuous and compassionate individuals. I believe that Parkinson's disease has made me a better, more insightful person, more appreciative of what's most important in my life. Faith cannot be taught, but we can use our illnesses to comfort and extend hope to others.

Through all seasons of the year many of us rub souls with wildflowers, colored grasses, calming twilights, rolling fields, and snow-swept land. Make this your morning mantra: "This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad!"¯

As a child reads to his younger brother, is the mother, lost in the moment, apt to graciously bring to mind that dedicated teacher who believed in him and spent extra time with him as he struggled to learn to read?

The men and women who work the soil, who sow and reap and deliver their crops to be processed, literally feed their fellowman. An anonymous individual may have saved your teenager from a life of drugs by intervening. A religion teacher you don't even know might have positively influenced your daughter's life by something he or she said years back.

How often do we give the least amount of thought to those who serve the public by answering emergency calls in the middle of a blustery cold night, or consider why they didn't choose less dangerous and demanding jobs? Unselfish, giving people with the innate desire to help others put their own safety and comfort on the line as firefighters and ambulance and rescue personnel throughout every community.

Kurt Vonnegut once said, "I can think of no more stirring symbol of man's humanity to man than a fire engine."¯

We don't always take the time to be grateful. How often are we aware of all the good fortune, human kindnesses, services offered, silent support of others, and every blessing that comes our way daily? Are we mindful of the child who is sparsely paid to work long hours under unsavory conditions to sew the cheaper imported garments in our closets? Do the faces of those with serious health issues haunt us as we thank our lucky stars for the health we take for granted?

Are our prayers usually petitions for something we want or think we need? If things go our way do we pause to thank God? Thanksgiving day is a welcomed holiday from work - to feast, decorate the house and set a festive table, to worship, enjoy family, and to gather around the wide screen to watch a rollicking football game. THANKSGIVING is a state of mind. As we break bread with our family and friends it would be so meaningful, especially for the children, to say a prayer for all the unknown guardian angels who cross our paths on our daily journeys"¦

And to add a prayer for a loving heart to be that kind of person for others. Happy Thanksgiving!

Janet Burns has been a lifelong resident of Lewiston. She can be reached at




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