Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Reasons to be Thankful

Tonight a friend sent out a quote from John Kennedy about his reasons for being glad to be a liberal. It mostly concerned thoughts about caring for others, their civil rights, their well being, looking ahead and not behind and not being rigid in thoughts or actions. I found much to agree with here and have always worn my liberal hat proudly. This is a county of volunteers, of people helping others, whether it is in being a volunteer coach, a tutor to someone who has poor English skills, or someone who makes sandwiches for the homeless. Many here do see themselves as their brothers' or sisters' keeper. Moving forward, looking toward Thanksgiving, I find that we, as a community, have much to be thankful for, even in the midst of a still troubled economy. When there is an announcement that our community has a need -- for food, for warm clothes, for assistance for a family after a fire -- people step up and speak out.

Food Banks throughout the area are reporting increased demand and more difficulty in meeting the needs of their clients. Manna Food Bank in Rockville is now open on some Saturdays, so additional people can get provisions. Olney HELP mentioned that its shelves were almost bare and the community came together. Tonight in a town gathering at an ecumenical Thanksgiving service, canned goods were collected and financial contributions were made to provide for this need. $1,400.00 in cash donations was collected and will be used to assist those who need help now. The OIney Farmers Market regularly joins with other local markets in donations of fresh fruits and vegetables from their growers to assist Manna.

I am also thankful for the service mentioned above as it brought out the best intentions of brotherhood, and the promise of America. There has been so much negativity in the media lately and news of intolerance so widely promoted, that this event stood out in a strong counterpoint. Very often intolerance is so based in the fear of the "other" -- the unknown person or unfamiliar practices. Protestant and Catholic religious members, Quakers, Jewish congregations, Muslims residents and African Americans, from the faith communities and others from the area, came together to celebrate their common interests and share their different ways of being thankful. A local synagogue was the host for the event. It was filled by hundreds of people. A procession of clergy from across the community shared messages and religious passages throughout the service. The evening began with the sound of the shofar -- symbol of a new start, and the Muslim call to prayer and ended as the female cantors joined with an African American choir in singing "Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me," followed by the Hava Negila.

Afterwards congregants shared desserts and drinks and actual conversations with each other. Some spoke of their wonder that this communal event happened and mentioned that this gave them faith for the future. Some people were overheard mentioning that this was their first time in a synagogue as they remarked about the architecture and simplicity of the building. Others said they hoped that this would become an annual event. Most times these quiet good moments receive little notice, so this is a season and a time when one can get away with a bit of good news, so I am running with it!

Do you have a good story to tell or a special reason to be thankful? Please share it here, as I put politics aside for a few brief moments, to celebrate some of those good people who make up our special county. Best wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving to all those who read this blog.

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