Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving_Graphic.jpgWith the combatants at a stalemate in Springfield, we’ve been back in the district for most of the past few weeks. I’ve used the time at home to give talks and meet with folks. Many of the groups are young people—schools, churches, Boy Scouts, etc.—so I decided that my primary message during these talks would be that: “you were put on this earth for a purpose, and you’ll be happiest if you find yours and live it.” Another way to put it is that: “each of you has a path to trod, and if you try to stay on your path and out of the brush, life is a lot more fulfilling—not to mention easier!”

One of those groups was a combined meeting of the 7th & 8th grade religious education classes at Sacred Heart Parish. They were an engaged, sharp, and inquisitive group of kids. We talked about a range of topics, from “how the sausage is made” in the Capitol, to how faith impacts one’s public life, to what I wanted to do with my life when I was their age. As for being a state representative, I must have made that sound interesting, because at the end, they all wanted to come to Springfield and serve as my “page for a day” on the House floor.

Afterward, the kids also took “selfie” pictures with me—I’m told you can find them on Instagram, which is apparently all the rage now. (I still resist going on Twitter, so Instagram is a real stretch.)

It’s times like these that a guy starts to feel like his father or grandfather, dispensing unsolicited advice to children and wondering about their newfangled web sites.

With Thanksgiving this week, it’s a good time to give thanks for blessed moments like these, moments of genuine interaction with others. These kids weren’t worried about terrorist attacks, refugee crises, and the crushing effect of government debt spreading across the globe. They were fully engaged in the moment and the wonder of a new experience. Thank God for that.

Thank God that we live in the United States of America, the greatest and most generous nation in the history of humanity. Our country is certainly not perfect, but the bounty we enjoy here is unprecedented. And we’re a lot closer to perfect than most.

Even in our home state of Illinois, which is in the grip of the forces of corruption, mismanagement, and self-dealing, there are plenty of people and institutions of character and enterprise fighting to free her and bring her back to prominence. Thanks be to God!

Hold your family and friends close this week. Have a few more of those memorable moments. Give some unsolicited advice to nearby children. And thank God for all of it.