The Words of the Moffitt Family

Attitude Of Gratitude - Commentary: SanViejo's Journey - Part One

Larry Moffitt
November 27, 2005
UPI Religion & Spirituality Forum

WASHINGTON, November 27 (UPI) -- I don't get migraine headaches. In fact, I have never had one. I almost don't get headaches, period.

The last significantly memorable headache I recall was after coming home from the Tulsa State Fair in the eighth grade. I had been out in the sun all day, riding the Tilt-a-Whirl and the Hammer. I ate lots of different foods, all made entirely of poisons -- funnel cakes, deep-fried corn dogs, cotton candy, Coca-Cola.

Me and a pal sneaked into what was called a "burlesque show" in the early autumn of '62. There were rumors of exotic things going on in there. The carny worked the crowd, barking, "Ring-a-ding-ding, it's naughty but nice." The bump-and-grind music emitted from inside made pied piper's mice out of us, but you had to be 18 or 21 to get in, and we weren't even peach fuzz.

We ran around to the other side of the tent and slipped in under the back, where we were immediately nabbed and tossed roughly out by a giant pair of hands on the other end of a snarling bouncer. Apparently we weren't the first overwrought middle schoolers to have this brilliant idea.

We ran until we could find a place to sit down and laugh until our sides hurt. It was all way too much adventure for one brain, and I arrived home before supper with a screaming splitter. But since then, there has been very little in the headache department.

Whenever I hear of a friend or co-worker having to miss a day of work because a migraine has come on with such pain that even light and sound create waves of searing heat and nausea, I am humbled. I wonder why I and others have been spared.

Add to that, other countable blessings: For example, I have never known true hunger; never been in a shooting war; have never killed anyone (that I'm aware of); my parents never got divorced; I am still on my first marriage, to a wonderful woman; I am well educated and quite affluent compared to the other six-and-a-half billion people on the earth. And so on. Many people around me would have a similar list of their own blessings.

Therefore, this morning, when I found myself cursing mightily at my cordless screwdriver because the battery charger had stopped working in the middle of a task, and now it won't charge and will have to be replaced for 20 or 30 bucks - I was being an inexcusably small-minded, pathetic twit.

Never mind that a cordless screwdriver is such a useful convenience. In fact, never mind any modern convenience or technological miracle, including the automobile, telephone, photocopier, jet airplane, refrigerator or open-heart surgery.

The greatest material blessing of this century is that I can go to the kitchen sink, turn on the faucet and fill a glass with safe drinking water day after day. And I can drink as much of it as I want, all day and all night. Before the year 1900, the leading cause of death worldwide was dysentery from bacteria in the water. It remains that way for hundreds of millions of people in other parts of the world who still can't find a drink of water they can be certain won't kill them.

For many, the greatest threat to their lives is their own government. But not for me, at this point, in the United States.

I wasn't an HIV baby, already sentenced at birth to a death set in motion by the conduct of my parents.

Consider dentistry. Imagine having impacted wisdom teeth removed in the era before local anesthetics, modern dental equipment and antibiotics.

Looking down from the heavens this morning, the angels would have seen a well-fed, white, middle-class, American male, standing in the driveway of his modern, centrally heated, indoor plumbed home -- attempting to change his license plate while screaming PG-13-rated expletives at a brain-dead cordless screwdriver. Really, that's so sad. I thought about that as I drove into work, and decided to write this to tally up my blessings and express my gratitude.

Just the fact of having lived a few extra years is a huge blessing. The older I get, the more I realize the truth of this.

For example, today I experienced seeing an elderly woman on the street and thinking to myself, what a beautiful spirit. If you had seen her, I'm sure you would have agreed. A heavenly kindness shone from her eyes.

However, for most of my callow youth, only pretty women showed up on my radar screen. Elderly women (and men) were invisible. It needs to be noted that if I had died much earlier in life, like, say, at the Tulsa State Fair in my 13th year, I would have lived my whole brief life without ever having acquired any kind of depth to my soul.

Imagine me dying in my early teens. Think of the enormity of what someone would have had to teach me after I had arrived in the spirit world -- all the lessons one normally learns from a full lifetime on earth. How long would it have taken ministering spirits to locate me in the slime pits of my own self-made hell, to clean me up and help me change from a clueless brat into something respectable? Where would they even begin?

I have needed every one of those extra years of life in order to become a more whole person, and by the grace of God, have been given them.

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