It was New Years and Brian Doyle was driving home with some friends. It was late - and dark. Suddenly a car started flashing its lights at him. How annoying he thought. But then… he realized. That car was trying to warn him of another car that was barreling down the highway towards him – going much faster than the speed limit –and it was coming at him in his lane. It was close. He could read its license plate. Finally, realizing the danger, he swerved onto the shoulder and car coming towards him sped by – never noticing that they almost crashed.
Doyle was pretty shaken. He couldn’t help but think about how close he came to losing his life. He wondered – when he left the house, did he tell his mom he loved her? He thought about the things that he would have regretted not doing and not saying if that night had been his last.
Fast forward to Thanksgiving Day. Perhaps because Brian had been thinking a lot about his almost-accident, that night, as he scrolled through his Facebook messages, he was struck by the overwhelming spirit of gratitude expressed in message after message. Inspired, Brian wondered, “why not say ‘Thank you’ to someone every day?”
The next day he posted his intention on-line and created the blog "365 Days of Thank You."
Brian found it trans-formative. Every day he woke up thinking about who he could thank that day – and for what he wanted to thank them.
He began with his best friend in a coffee shop the next day. After his closest friends, he reached out to mentors and teachers. Then… on day 183, he went home for a break. Out on the golf course with his dad… he knew he wanted to say thank you to his dad – but found it really hard to know how to begin. He said, “I had never just sat down with my dad and thanked him for what he has done for me.” His dad received it with humility – and they talked on that golf bench for two hours. Brian said, “It really unlocked a deep relationship that I never knew I was missing.”
Back in his home town on day 249, he saw a guy walking with his mom. Brian recognized him as David, a boy he knew in grade school who had Asburger syndrome. He remembered that David had been mercilessly bullied and teased – and yet he did not it bother him. David had learned to let the comments slide like water on a duck’s back – and instead of looking angry, had always stood a little taller. Brian called him over and thanked him for being a role model for him.
David was surprised – but his wasn’t the biggest reaction. Brian looked up to see David’s mom with her hands over her face crying. And then Brian realized - No one had ever thanked David before.
Brian learned, that year, the power of gratitude –for those that were thanked, for himself and for those who were witnesses.
Today and tomorrow, we pause to give thanks to God for all the gifts that God has given to us – our life and our relationships with God and with one another. But perhaps Brian’s right. The words “Thank you” don’t have to be reserved for days like today. And it’s never too late to say. As a wise friend once said to me when I worried that I had taken too long to write a thank you note: the statute of limitations never runs out on saying “Thank you.”
Thank you. I thank God for you. Amen.
Pastor Pam Stalheim Lane
Faith-Lilac Way Thanksgiving Eve Nov 21, 2018