Monday, November 16, 2009

The Turkey Trap

Here is another "Meditation From the High Country" by a favorite author, Don Ian Smith. My husband and I found his books not long after we got married, and Galen enjoyed them so much he found out how to contact Mr. Smith. He was able to talk to him on the telephone; I believe Mr. Smith passed away not too long afterwards. This is from his book, The Open Gate.

Long ago I heard a turkey story. I don't know if it is true, but if it isn't it ought to be. It concerns a man who lived in the hills where there were wild turkeys. Each year the man went into the hills to catch his Thanksgiving turkey. He had a very unique trap- it was simply a very large, heavy wooden box. One end of the box was propped up with a stick. A string attached to the stick was stretched out to some nearby bushes where the man could hide and wait for a turkey. Long lines of corn were laid out reaching from the woods to the box, and more corn was placed under the box for additional bait. When a turkey followed the line of corn to the box and stopped to eat the corn underneath , the man simply jerked the string, the stick fell, the box captured the turkey.

A few days before Thanksgiving he prepared his trap and waited. Soon a fine gobbler followed a trail of corn into the trap. The man was just ready to pull the string when another turkey entered the trap, and then another! More turkeys were coming, and he could not decide when to pull the string.

Just when there were ten turkeys in the trap, they suddenly flew. The man quickly pulled the string, but all he caught was the first big gobbler. It was a fine bird, very adequate for his dinner. But his Thanksgiving was ruined. He was unable to give thanks for the turkey he had because he was thinking of the loss of the nine.

Quite often we hear people complain about what they could have IF...if they had just sold out sooner, if they had invested when they were younger, if they had gone into another line of work. This pessimistic way of looking at things is a tendency we can avoid if we simply remember to be thankful for what we do have and enjoy the turkey that did not get away.

A most important gift of the Christian faith is the gift of gratitude. Giving thanks and rejoicing is fundamental to true worship. Rejoicing and giving thanks, like laughter, helps keep us healthy. A religion of commitment and obligation, without gratitude and rejoicing, is a slave driver with a whip from which one will escape if he can. We all do vastly more out of gratitude than we do out of obligation. When we are really grateful for something that has been done for us, we have a strong natural desire to give something ourselves.

Why is there so much grumbling instead of thanksgiving? Often those who have much, complain most. Those who are most thankful are those who have never had more than one turkey in the trap. The world does not owe us a living, so every day we should rejoice and give thanks for anything and everything we have. The practice of thanksgiving can protect us from becoming bitter and despondent over what we have lost, or never attained.

Giving is so much fun that it would be nice to have a great deal to give away. We don't generally have a chance to give away as much as we receive, so it is important to learn how to receive with gratitude. Lack of gratitude is a mark of colossal conceit because it indicates that we think no one else has contributed to what we have or what we have accomplished. We come into life helpless; we go from life helpless. For a few years in between we may be able to carry our own weight, but never will we balance the scales even if we help other people. Always we will be deeply in debt, and the only way we can settle the account is through our gratitude.

When we prosper we can give to others with thanksgiving; when we have misfortune we can accept our difficulties with thanksgiving because we know that giving and receiving are two sides of the same coin. As we understand that all things are in God's hands, we can get life in the right perspective. I am glad that we have a custom of a national day for thanksgiving. It can be a day of real rejoicing and giving serious thought to the fine art of receiving and the importance of gratitude in all areas of life. Practice the art of saying, "Thank you, I really do appreciate what you have done for me." The secret of the good life is just as simple as the lesson of the turkey trap. It is learning to rejoice over what we have rather than complaining about the turkeys that flew away.

1 comment:

  1. What a great perspective. I love this!