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I have food in my refrigerator. To me that’s normal. But knowing that many people are hungry makes me think that I’m blessed. Or am I merely privileged, socially and economically?

I’m healthy. For me that’s normal. But knowing that so many are sick or frail or wounded or weak, I realize that I’m blessed. But knowing I have access to health care, I know I’m also privileged.

I will gather at Thanksgiving with family. Knowing that so many are alone and/or lonely makes me realize that I’m blessed.

What we usually consider “normal” isn’t normal. We usually assume we ought to be healthy; we ought to have food (and a refrigerator); we ought to have loved ones. It is as “normal” to be sick as healthy, to be hungry as to have food, to be lonely and cold and isolated as to feel warmed by love.

Blake_1793_Job's_TormentorsThe Book of Job is a story of someone richly blessed – he has family (in quantity); he has wealth (in quantity); he has people’s respect. That is considered normal, or maybe normal plus. His tragedy – one to which we relate because we can imagine having and losing everything – is that he loses wealth, health, social status, and loved ones. He assumes, as we assume, that the beginning of the story is normal when, in reality, he was one of the privileged and one of the blessed.

In the confusion of life, we have a hard time differentiating between the ways we are socially privileged (or not) from the ways we are blessed by God (to reconsider who God blesses, consider the Beatitudes).

beatitudes23In the mystery of life, it is often hard to know what to make of the good things in our lives. We even take it for granted that we take them for granted!

But as we prepare for Thanksgiving, I pray that we take a moment to reshuffle our confusion about what is normal, privileged, and blessed. Then perhaps we will want everyone to share whatever privileges we have. Then perhaps we will realize how bountifully blessed we are.