Jim Bishop | Little Blessings Make Lots of Sense

‘Tis the gift to be simple,
‘Tis the gift to be free,
‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be …

It may sound trite to declare that “the best things in life are free,” but more and more I’m discovering the verity of that adage.
Material things are necessary to sustain life, but they rarely give life significantly more meaning in and of themselves — at least not over the long haul.

As Thanksgiving Day approaches, with its time-honored tradition of appraising our lives, priorities and attitudes, I find myself inclined to tally up my bountiful supply of blessings that money can’t buy:

I’m grateful for the love and support of my wife and daughters and extended family and friends.

I’m thankful that I am still capable of changing my mind, of acknowledging my weaknesses and mistakes and of trying new things as I enter my sixth decade on this good Earth.

I’m grateful for people who cross my path with new insights on dealing with recurring problems and hassles, who develop time-saving and life-giving technologies, who remain approachable and likable after achieving a degree of celebrity status.

… And when we are in the place just right
We’ll be in the valley of love and delight.



I’m thankful for the extended awesome autumn we’ve had in the Shenandoah Valley.

I’m thankful for my congregation, Community Mennonite Church, and its servant-leaders that labor long and lovingly in shepherding their often obstinate flock.

I’m appreciative of actors and comedians who can entertain and make me laugh or stop and think about life’s incongruities without employing bathroom humor, a fusillade of four-letter words or anecdotes that degrade other races and cultures.

I’m thankful that our national, state and local elections are over and take some solace in a brief reprieve from vindictive political ads, verbal sparring and hollow platform promises. Unfortunately, the next round in the political race will heat up all too soon.

I’m grateful that whenever I want a rush, all I have to do is lift up mine eyes unto the Blue Ridge Mountains.

I am thankful for music that speaks volumes without words, for moments of calm and stillness in the midst of clamorous and stressful schedules, for snippets of serendipity amid the demands of daily toil.

When true simplicity is gained
To bow and to bend we will not be ashamed …



I’m grateful for health care personnel who possess the skills to perform necessary maintenance on this aging physical vehicle and for remarkable medications that can help prevent life-threatening illnesses.

I’m grateful that I’m able to donate blood every eight weeks and then promptly leave the hospital under my own power.

I’m thankful for those persons who can be counted on to do what they say they will do and for the many unsung heroes who unobtrusively go about practicing random acts of kindness and mercy.

I’m obliged to those who take time to voice appreciation or write a note of affirmation for my neophyte neurological notions as well as for those who offer constructive critiques of my jottings along the way.

I’m thankful that after some 38 years at the same location, my work remains challenging and gratifying and that I have occasional chances to get away from it all and to unwind.

I am grateful for special days on the calendar — like Thanksgiving, with the Christmas holidays not far off.

Oh, and I’m thankful for oyster gravy to pour over the turkey dressing. I’ll pass on the cranberry salad.

… To turn, to turn ‘twill be our delight,
‘Til by turning, turning we come out right.


– Column by Jim Bishop



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