A Thank You To Librarians

Wikidata education for librarians group at WikiCite 2018 by LiAnna (Wiki Ed) licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Libraries in many places are just starting to open up. But librarians have been hard at work all along, even though they miss having patrons in their buildings. I asked people on the Bob on Books Facebook page what they would want to say to librarians.

A word that kept coming up was “lifeline.” Whether it was help getting e-books or gathering their book requests for the curbside pickups many of you provided, people were so grateful for the effort you invested in getting books to us safely.

People didn’t merely see librarians as helping them, but the whole community, just as they always do. But in a time of isolation and strain, your service sustained that sense of knitting together a community and serving that community.

Several mentioned some of your challenges, from the time it took to get book requests to your need to take our temperatures. We just wanted to say “we understand, and appreciate all the things you are doing to keep us safe. We want to keep you safe as well.” And we won’t microwave the books!

You are so creative. Some of you provided craft kits in your communities or special online programs.

We think of you as essential! We want you to be safe and we will wear our masks (over our noses!) when we can come back to the library. We don’t know what we would have done without you during the pandemic.

We appreciate all those library skills and research skills you taught us. We’ve had all kinds of professional and personal reasons to use those during the pandemic.

In some cases, infection rates are still too high to open up. We want you to know how much we miss you!

Your service moves some of us to song: “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine; You make me happy when skies are grey.

One person wrote, “You are important, loved, necessary, and valued!” Some pray for you, others bless you, and what everyone wants to say is:

Taking for Granted What is Granted

happy-thanksgiving-greetings-graphicIn his message this past Sunday, our pastor mentioned the idea of “taking for granted what is granted” as he talked about thanksgiving. I’ve been turning that over in my mind all week. It seems we have this propensity to forget that every good, true, and beautiful person, place or thing we enjoy comes as a “grant” and not something we earn or are simply entitled to. It is easy to think we have done something to deserve the good things we have in life. Yet we can think of instances of others who have done the same things and don’t have what we enjoy, or those who have done squat and enjoy far more.

Actually, the idea of “thanksgiving” seems to recognize that there is both something for which we give thanks, and someone to be thanked. We are both thankful for and thankful to. We are thankful for what we’ve been granted, and also thankful to the grantor.

Certainly some of what we’ve been granted comes from significant others in our lives. I am truly thankful for the love and companionship, the home and the meals, the good sense and artistic view of life, that are gifts from my wife. I’m thankful for the nurture and care and guidance and love of two parents who profoundly shaped my life. I’m thankful to my son for a friendship where we spur each other on in writing, and where he’s not afraid to push back when he thinks I’m “out of touch” or disagrees with my take on life. I’m thankful for and to friends and colleagues who have so enriched my life.

There is so much else though that is good, true, and beautiful for which there is no person to thank. The glories of this evening’s sunset. The smell of autumn leaves. The crisp tang of the morning air. The inspirations of a glorious landscape or the song of a bird, to art and music and dance. The simple pleasures of being alive–the warmth of the morning shower, the savor of coffee brewing and that first sip, the refreshment of a nap, a brisk walk across campus, the hug of someone you love.

There is a sense in which all these things are “granted” as well even though there is no human grantor. Some resolve this by saying that what is important is just the state of thankfulness. And probably that is far better than a grumbling, complaining spirit and our own mental outlook. Others, depending on their outlook thank nature, the universe or the Creator. I find myself in the latter camp, inclined to think that something so personal as a heartfelt “thank you” fits best with an infinite-personal Creator who “grants” these wonders for which I am so thankful and feel myself so blessed. One of my favorite passages of scripture is found in James 1:17:

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

This reminds me of the chorus from Godspell (based on an old German hymn, later translated into English):

“All good gifts around us
Are sent from Heaven above..
So thank the Lord, oh thank the Lord for all his love..”

Today is a day that reminds me that I am loved extravagantly. Lover.
Father. Lord. And all I can do is say “thank you.” And that is enough.

 

 

Count Your Blessings

The phrase sounds kind of “old-fashioned” and reminds me of an old gospel tune that has the line “count your blessings, name them one by one.” I’m in a spiritual formation group right now that is reading James Bryan Smith’s The Good and Beautiful GodAt the end of each chapter, there are “soul-training” exercises and “counting your blessings” is the current one. One thing we are trying to do this week as a group is to think of five things for which we are thankful each day. Here are mine for today:

1.  Receiving two calls that from people I’d been meaning to call–saved me the effort of trying to track them down!

2.  Cool nights that make for good sleeping weather.

3.  The chance to sing with my friends in Capriccio Columbus this evening.

4.  Meet-ups at Chubby’s with my son.

5.  Every day I get to spend with my wife!

We talked about gratitude yesterday and how this isn’t often our default and how thankfulness (for me it is to God for these blessings) enriches our lives. Thinking of the title of the book, it strikes me that thankfulness reminds me of how good and beautiful life often is (as well as being hard and painful at times). We often talk about the “problem of evil or suffering” but much less about what I might call the “problem of goodness”–why is there so much goodness and beauty in the world? Counting blessings leads me to think (and I know not all will agree) that it is because there is indeed a good a beautiful God who is the source of these things.