Saturday, February 2, 2013

Halftime Gift

It was halftime at the big basketball game last night between St. Benedict’s and St. Anthony’s (Jersey City), both teams ranked in the top six in the nation. (If I mention that St. Benedict’s won handily, it is only for purposes of full disclosure.) Among the many alumni present was a fellow who had to re-introduce himself after 30 years. He’d been a roly-poly little Hispanic kid back when I taught him four different courses. After chatting with him and the group of other alums that he was with, I walked away in search of other graduates. 

Suddenly I heard someone calling my name. I turned around to see that my not-so-roly-poly student was chasing me.  I stopped and we stood facing one another and he looked me in the eye very intently and said, “Thank you!” I smiled, grateful for his gratitude. He repeated himself, “Thank you! Thank you!” You were my favorite teacher. I had you fro French three years and for creative writing. And the older I get the more I see how much you did for me. So I just want to say Thank you! Thank you!” His voice was starting to crack with the sincerity of the moment. He really seemed to be grateful for the opportunity to say something he’d felt deeply since 1983, and now was relieved that he’d finally said it. I was glad he’s said it, too. Teaching high school boys you don’t always get much feedback, so when it comes you savor it.

I need to be thankful to Nicky this morning, because the way he sought me out at the basketball game to offer his sincere, heartfelt thanks was a good reminder to me.  How often do I seek out the Lord to say a heartfelt “Thank you” for everything that God has done for me? 

“Thank You! Thank you!” That was on Friday. On Thursday I’d been reading about psalms of thanksgiving, and how the psalmist invariably includes the reason for his gratitude, and how the song often becomes a hymn of praise. Praise and thanks go together.  Psalms of thanksgiving, it seems, are usually are the result of God’s having answered the psalmist’s  prayer, especially for deliverance of some kind. While I’m sure that over the years I have prayed to God many times during crises, my feeling this morning is more like Nicky’s: “Thank you for what you’ve done for me!” My prayer this morning quickly moves from gratitude to praise.   

......................Psalm 150
Praise the Lord!
Praise God in his sanctuary;
   praise him in his mighty firmament!
Praise him for his mighty deeds;
   praise him according to his surpassing greatness!

Praise him with trumpet sound;
   praise him with lute and harp!
Praise him with tambourine and dance;
   praise him with strings and pipe!
Praise him with clanging cymbals;
   praise him with loud clashing cymbals!
Let everything that breathes praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord


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