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Rev. Dr. Monte Canfield

Rev. Dr. Monte Canfield
Location
Newcomerstown, Ohio, USA
Birthday
December 28
Title
Rev. Dr. Monte Canfield
Company
Retired
Bio
Retired Protestant Pastor and Theologian, credentialed in the United Church of Christ; licensed by the Moravian Church . Education: BA, MA, M.Div, Thd. Public Service: NY State Office of Executive Development, Management Intern; Federal Exec. Branch: Executive Office of the President, Budget Examiner, Bureau of the Budget; Interior, Director of Energy and Minerals, Bureau of Land Management; Non Profit: Ford Foundation, Deputy Director, Energy Policy Project; Congressional: Director, Office of Special Projects; Director, Division of Energy and Materials, General Accounting Office. Private industry: Vice President, Grow Group, Inc.; Chief Executive Officer, US Paint; Owner, the Energy Center, St. Louis. Christian service: Pastor, First Congregational UCC, Ottawa, Illinois; Pastor, St. Paul's UCC, Port Washington, Ohio; Pastor, Moravian Church, Gnadenhutten, Ohio. Interim Pastor, the Baltic Parish UCC, Baltic, Ohio; starting 08 2014: Interim Pastor, St. John UCC, Strasburg, OH

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SEPTEMBER 8, 2010 1:59PM

A Story of Thanksgiving: Where Are The Other Nine?

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Note: While this is written from my Christian perspective, I believe this essay raises issues for people of all faiths or of no faith at all.

Luke 17:11-19

Jesus was passing along the border of Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered a village, ten men who were lepers stood far off and lifted their voices to him, saying, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us." When he heard them, he said to them, "Go and show yourselves to the priests." And as they went, they were healed. One of them, a Samaritan, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorifying God he fell upon his face at Jesus' feet, giving him thanks. Jesus answered, saying "Were not ten healed? Where are the other nine? 18 Are there none who return to give glory to God, except this foreigner?" 19 And Jesus said to him, "Arise, and go on your way: your faith hath made you whole."


This little story about Jesus and the lepers is about a time of great personal crisis brought on by a horrible, incurable disease. And there is no "big deal" in life quite like being really ill, whether it is a sudden onset sickness or a chronic and incurable disease.

Serious illness is one of the worst things life can throw at us. It is not only the pain and physical misery that has to be endured; it is also the mental anguish, first of not knowing what is wrong, and then of knowing and wondering if anything actually can be done about it. All of that mental anguish is a function of being confronted with the truth of our own mortality, or of a painful morbidity that we might have to face for the rest of our life. Death is no longer an abstraction, something that happens to someone else. It is something that is happening to us. It is a time of our greatest vulnerability to the one thing we can't avoid: our own decay and death.

Serious illness is an all too graphic reminder that this life is fragile, finite and short. Even though we know that to be true on an intellectual level it is often only on our sickbed that we finally figure out that our personal earthly life is terminal. At its worst, serious illness is a foretaste of what it is like to have the world go on without you.

Perhaps that is why, when we are well, we often avoid those who are seriously ill. We may send a card or call, but we find it hard to visit. And the more seriously ill a person is the more reluctant we are. I remember that when I was a hospital chaplain back in the early 90s I would watch visitors stream in to see someone who had hernia or gall bladder surgery, or a broken leg. But I would walk down the hall to the AIDS ward and sit quietly talking to those folks and never see them get a visitor for days on end. In those days when science was just confirming how AIDS and HIV were transmitted the general public was afraid that they would catch their death from someone who had that affliction. Literally.

The many stories of Jesus and his dealings with those who had grave illnesses tell us that he understood this fear of death that we try so hard to cover over. This story of Jesus and the lepers takes place as Jesus is on the way to his own death, a death which he has foretold, in Jerusalem. Yet, on that journey he took the time to heal others. In this case, he was dealing with lepers. Ten of them to be exact.

It is hard for us to understand just how awful leprosy was in those days. Leprosy was a sentence of death, a slow, disfiguring, incurable death. But long before lepers died physically, they were essentially dead to anything approaching what we would call living. They were cast out of their homes, separated from their families, forbidden, literally, to come anywhere close to healthy people. In fact, they often lived in caves along the main caravan routes in colonies of other lepers, bound together in their dance with death, calling out for whatever alms they could get for essentials like food. They lived off the scraps of society because to society they were nothing but scraps.

When they moved about they were required to shout "Unclean! Unclean!" so that healthy people could avoid being in close proximity. Meanwhile, the relentless disease ate away at their bodies, distorting their features, even as it ate away at their pride and whatever dignity they had before they contracted the disease. Long before these unfortunates were physically dead, they were dead to their families and their community, even forbidden to practice their religion with those who were deemed "clean".

And so, into this setting comes Jesus, walking along the border between Galilee and Samaria. One of the ten lepers was even more of an outcast to a Jew than were the nine others, for he was a Samaritan. Samaritans were hated as a half-breed, syncretist race who held to a corrupt, compromised religion. That this hatred was ill founded did not really cross the minds of the Jewish leadership. And so, in the eyes of a Jewish rabbi like Jesus it should have been hard to imagine anyone lower than a Samaritan leper.

And thus the scene is set. We see Jesus walking along and, standing far off, the lepers beg Jesus for mercy. What did they want? What could they expect? Did they hope for a few coins, some bread or dried meat? Did they hope for a blessing or perhaps a kind word. Could these lowest of the low actually hope for a miracle?  And why would a Jewish rabbi help them at all, knowing that the priests had condemned them to this life. How could he afford to do anything contrary to custom and law?

Well, Jesus does not break the law nor does he do anything that indicates that there is a miracle afoot. He makes no gestures of healing, does not touch them or come near to them, does not say anything to them that would indicate that he is doing anything for them at all. He simply treats them as if they are healed. And so he commands them to go and show themselves to their priests.

But, why would they? They are a mess, covered with sores, their features distorted, some beyond recognition. Why go to the priests only to be rejected yet again? Had they not suffered enough rejection for ten lifetimes? After all, the priests held their lives in their hands. They decided who was clean and who was unclean. They decided how severe the uncleanliness was and how the affected person was to deal with it.

Yet Jesus, a rabbi, told them to go to the priests as if they were clean. And here is the first miracle: they obeyed. As I have said many times before, trusting obedience is the most rudimentary form of faith: to trust and obey may not seem attractive to us individualists, but it is the first step in faith. Belief "in" something or someone comes later. We do not know why they trusted Jesus and obeyed him. Luke does not say. But many of the graces of God are not explained. I believe that their trusting obedience had to come from some place beyond themselves. It could not have come out of any grace filled experience they had up to that point in their wretched lives. It was a gift of faith.

And so, uncured, they go as they are told to do. And, as they go, the second miracle occurs: they are healed. They trusted and obeyed before they were healed, and having done so they find that they are, in fact, healed.  And nine of them just keep right on going. Apparently they make no connection between their healing and the strange instruction of Jesus.  Like us when we are healed, sometimes we are so happy just to be well that we forget why it happened or who brought it about.

But one leper, the Samaritan, makes the connection between the healing and the healer. He comes back, praising God at the top of his lungs, throwing himself on the ground in front of Jesus and thanking him profusely: "Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!"

And Jesus doesn't pick him up, dust him off and tell him some little comforting parable or saying to remind him of what just happened. Instead, Jesus asks two not quite rhetorical questions. "Hey, what happened to the other nine?" and "Did only you, a foreigner, see fit to come back and praise God?" Then Jesus tells him to go on his way because his faith has "made him whole" (or, "has healed" him).

Now, I know most modern Bible translations say that the man's faith "healed" him. But that is far too obvious a conclusion, and robs the story of its extraordinary power. I believe that phrase should read "your faith has saved you." Luke is trying to tell us something vitally important here and most modern translations are missing the point. The Greek word we see here translated as "healed," "made well," and "made whole" is precisely the word used throughout the New Testament for "saved."

And here is the point I believe Luke is making: we know that all ten were "healed," or "made whole." That is obvious. But only one came back. And that one was "saved" by having done so.  Only one, the Samaritan, turned back to the source of his healing and expressed thanksgiving: joyous, outrageous gratitude; thanksgiving directed at God through the instrument of his healing: Jesus. Only one felt and understood the source of his salvation.

So, what is the difference between the thankful one and the nine who do not come back to say thank you? The ten lepers were all dead people. Spiritually and socially, and, increasingly, physically, they were considered dead. And every one of them would have given just about anything to be made well again, to simply be "normal" and to live a normal life. And Jesus gave all ten of them that. So, what is the only real difference?

Just this. What Luke is really talking about here is the possibility of a spiritual resurrection: a resurrection that gives them a chance to restore relationship with God and not to be just "normal" like other people. And if they did not know that Jesus is about the task resurrecting people to more than just physical life but to be in right relationship to God, then Luke knew exactly that. Story after story in his Gospel portray this role that Jesus plays throughout his ministry.

Luke knew that all of the healed lepers were once "outside" of normal society, and he knew that all are made "insiders" once again by Jesus. But only one, the Samaritan, realizes a spiritual resurrection. This one is not only healed, he is "saved," delivered, made whole, not only in body but in spirit. He alone comes back to say "thanks." He alone realizes that Jesus has now established a relationship with him, and has renewed his relationship with God.  Most importantly, he alone recognizes that he is saved and was accepted by Jesus while he was yet a leper, while he was still sick, untouchable -- before he got well.

That is the true message Luke brings to us in this little story.

Personally I believe that Jesus is saying to the Samaritan, "Your acceptance of my embracing, life giving love, your faith in me even before you knew you were healed, and your recognition that the source of your healing is God; that faith has saved you."

As for the others they too got a wonderful gift for they were healed. The healing of the leprosy came with no strings attached. There was no requirement that they turn back and thank the one who healed them.  And, like us, there is little likelihood that they will. You see they are all back to being "normal." And give it a year and they will forget all about who healed them. After all, their skin is clear, their sores are healed, there is a mortgage to pay, children to raise, shopping to be done, and work to do to make all of that possible.

But for me there remains a certain pathos in that outcome for the nine. What a shame it is to have met the Lord and giver of life and to come away from that encounter only "normal."

What happened to the other nine should remind the Christian believer that we really cannot ignore the One who blesses us, and in so doing not recognize the source of life and the offer of life in Christ's name.

And for my all of my readers, Christian or not, I would hope that you come away from this essay remembering that we really do not get by in this life without the help of others. And when someone comes into our lives and comes bearing life giving, life sparing or life changing gifts, be that person divine or human, we need to ask ourselves: do we both recognize and give thanks for the gifts we are given; or do we take them for granted and believe that no thanksgivings are in order?

The choice, of course, is always ours.

Monte    
 

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One of the nicest compliments I ever received was from a seminary prof who said, "You're like the one leper who returned to give thanks." (As I was in a class of considerably more than 10, that was worrisome.)

Yours is a wonderful assessment. We can take what we want and dash away, or we can remain in a relationship that will provide us with far more than we could ever think to want, but it requires participation on our part.

I hope you are in good spirits, Monte. Thank you for this.
Those nine lepers had a chance to "know" Jesus the son of God, not to just "know of" him. My friend Pat, that you have counseled us on in terms of our faith and his healing, shared the above statement recently. He and I have been through some tests, I knowing him in the difficulty in loving him and obeying God regarding him, and he through facing a potentially terminal illness, and embracing love. This summer breakthroughs happened. Bridges were crossed. He has decided he is worth the love given to him. I have such a peace knowing now what God was shaping in us. He's still doing chemo, but his attitude is so different. He's not toughing it out anymore. Where once he was a warrior with a sword. Now he boldly goes up to the enemy and plants a big kiss on the face of it. Confronting obstacles with love instead of anything else is the way to go. And that involves gratitude every step of the way and naming the source of our strength and our healing! Praise God, the Almighty Healer!
So much to ponder here, Monte. Thanks for this.
Totally rated, and contemplated. Or rather, I will be contemplating this . . .
More inspiration and wisdom from you, dear Monte. This one deserves a re-read and some contemplation. Fascinating story from which to draw more truths from lessons told with love.
As you well know, Monte, I'm not a follower of your faith, but I am always intrigued by your insight and the manner in which you share your knowledge. I have learned much from this wisely worded lesson and say so with great respect.
Thank you Monte, for this essay was indeed a gift. Your posts on faith invariably provide me pause to contemplate on my own life and faith (or lack of faith). Of all the writers on this site, there are only a couple whose work deserves to be published for their insight, wisdom, readibility and the worth of the words and thoughts contained. Yours is at the top of that list.
"Luke is really talking about here is the possibility of a spiritual resurrection: a resurrection that gives them a chance to restore relationship with God and not to be just "normal" like other people."
Nicely put Reverend.
"I believe that their trusting obedience had to come from some place beyond themselves. It could not have come out of any grace filled experience they had up to that point in their wretched lives. It was a gift of faith."

I am intrigued by this fine point you make between grace and faith. See, I would argue no, it's grace, but if forced to explain my statement I would not be able to do so. If you have written on the difference between both or if you will, please let me know. I'd love to read it.
Hi, folks. I have a full evening and will get to personal replies tomorrow.

Vanessa: I have never published anything here on how grace and faith relate, but will, tomorrow, explain my understanding of the distinction between them. They are, of course, intimately related.

Thanks for the comments from all of you.

Monte
Thanks for the reading. You had me all the way. I agree totally with your last paragraph. It simply says it all. Just Jali Smiling.
Glad to see you are back too and rated.
Lovely thoughtful piece Monte.
This is a parable Ive wondered about from time to time. We know no more of the 9 (and isnt there something about the numbers here that this might address? Im not meaning Kabala or any of that, Im thinking archetypally). Could they have followed in obediance to Jesus's words, "Go and present yourself"? Would that not have been listening to God? Or are we meant to think only that gratitude counts for more in this life than most anything?
Your thoughts?
I haven't been afraid to die for a long, long time. Gratitude for the life I was given saved me from the fear of death over twenty years ago.

I Know you are saying something different here, but for me, being willing to thank God for the gift of my life has made every day since I realized the benefit of making that choice to turn back, to say thank you from the bottom of my heart, choosing to be that Susanne, it made all the difference to me.

When I was afraid of death because of a life threatening illness, I lived my life with a specter hanging over me, a specter of "what if's" and I carried a burden of undelivered love. When I thought I was going to die I wondered if there was anyone that I should apologize to, for anything, for any reason at all. And in looking for who I might have hurt or offended I saw how poorly I saw myself, and I let that go as a way of being in life. I could not believe that God would want me to live that way, with that horrible feeling of smallness.

When I was well again and healed of all the terrible surgeries and the scar tissue stopped ripping and tearing, I found that I had no use for that false smallness and I thought that God must want something more of me. I was absolutely okay with that. I knew that it meant I would have to do things I had not done before, face challenges I had declined before, and that all was well. I am ever grateful for my life and fearless in living it as well as I can. God gave me this gift of life more than once.
HL: Thanks much. It does rather astonish me how many people crave a relationship with God and wonder why they do not have one while at the same time forgetting that a relationship is a two way commitment. We truly cannot have a relationship with God unless we "participate." Its kind of like prayer. If we are constantly talking and never listening we will never have a chance of hearing what God is saying to us. Incidentally, your last post was marvelous.

Anne: Thanks. I am so grateful and glad that Pat has come to a different place in his spiritual journey. What a blessing that is. Awareness of self and of our worthiness to be loved often takes a long and painful time. I am just glad that he has come to this point at a time of his life where it can give him some peace knowing that he can love and be loved for who he is. The great theologian, Karl Barth, who wrote literally shelves of books about God, was asked, when he was an old man, what was the most important thing he ever learned in his decades of study. He thought for but a second and said, "Jesus loves me, this I know." Pat truly knows that now that he can love himself and accept the love offered to him.

Anna: so glad that you stopped by to read and that it spoke to you.

Owl, dear, friend, it is always a pleasure to have you read and contemplate my writing. I pray all is well with you.

Cathy: your kind words always lift me up.

cartouche: our different ways of dealing with the issue of faith have never come between us, but have only allowed us to see that each person must come at spirituality in his or her own way. It is good to see you here. Blessings.

Walter, always good to have you reading my efforts. Your kind words are embarrassing but I thank you for them. They give me incentive to keep trying to share what I can with others.

Thanks, Don. I appreciate your comments and thank you for continuing to be a faithful reader of my essays.

Vanessa: You raise an important and difficult issue. I hope what I write here helps explain it a bit, rather than just muddy the waters. But it is not an easy issue and not all are in agreement as to its solution.

The full thought I had was, "But many of the graces of God are not explained. I believe that their trusting obedience had to come from some place beyond themselves. It could not have come out of any grace filled experience they had up to that point in their wretched lives. It was a gift of faith."

Grace can be subtly defined in many ways. But the core of God's grace is that it is a gift from God which is free, undeserved and unearned - and does not come from us, but from God. Grace is a gift from outside of ourselves, in other words, from God, with no strings attached. My point is that the leper's trusting obedience did not come from them but from God working within them. Since trusting obedience is a rudimentary form of faith, that faith was a "gift OF faith" from God to them.

This is a disputed theological issue. That is why I prefaced my thought with "I believe that." The question is: Where does our response to God come from? Orthodox Christian theology, to which I largely subscribe, says that our response comes from the Holy Spirit working within us. That is, that we have no ability to respond to God on our own but that our response itself is a gift from God.

Some have argued that our response comes from our own free will.

However, that runs contrary to the idea that salvation comes only from God, not from anything that we do. Luther's famous dictum that we are saved "by grace alone through faith alone" comes from this belief of St. Paul and other NT writers. This is the essence of the argument that we are saved by faith alone, and never by our own "works." (ie: our own willpower.)

It is a complicated issue and it is my belief that humans will never solve it to everyone's satisfaction.

In my own case, with my long 35 year struggle with alcoholism, for example, I KNEW that I could not find the will power to save myself from alcohol. I had tried hundreds of times. And it was not until I truly admitted that I was helpless, that there was no solution in me, and turned it over to my "higher power" that I was given my own true "gift of faith" from God. God could, and did, come into my heart and gave me the grace of sobriety. That was over 20 years ago. So you can see why I feel the way I do about this issue.

Jali: blessings, and thanks for reading.

Tim: Your kind words encourage me. I know of no real significance in the numbers, although 10 is said to be a holy number, complete, etc. But I am not into that sort of thinking. And there is nothing in the works of Luke to indicate that he paid any attention to any form of numerology.

Your other point is correct. The others DID follow the literal instruction to go and present themselves to the priests. I certainly did not mean to say that they were not listening TO God. They did "trust and obey" Jesus, all of them. And they received the free gift of healing for so doing. What they did NOT do is respond to the grace of healing by 1) recognizing the source of their healing and 2) returning to that source with thanksgiving.

I do not think that gratitude counts more than all other things, but faith without gratitude, faith which is only trusting and obeying, is an unthinking rudimentary faith. To grow in faith is to grow toward the source of our faith, with joy and gratitude for the free gifts of grace which we are wholly incapable of giving ourselves.

Susanne: So good to have you here and to have you share some of your own personal history about coming to grips with the issues of illness and death. I think that will be very helpful to others who yet struggle with those questions, or who will struggle with them in the future.

I cannot say that I have totally come to grips with those issues even today, but I am far less concerned about them than I was 20 years ago. I do not fear death. But I have little interest yet in dying and would not look forward to a lingering, painful death. My current medical issues have provided for me in the last 3 years enough pain and debilitation to last a life time.

As you know, I believe that the issues of pain, severe illness, dying and death are at the heart of much anxiety in this world. A few, like yourself, have come to grips with those issues, but the vast majority of people have not. It is the 800 pound gorilla in the room. I share with the brilliant atheist, Ernest Becker, the belief that "The Denial of Death" [the title of his famous sociological treatise] is the single most important issue humankind has both refused to face and been unable to come to grips with.

In my years of clinical counseling and in my several pastorates this denial has been at the heart of more dysfunction that lies beneath the superficial problems as presented than I would ever have thought.

And I think that people like you and me can and must share our own struggles, and our triumphs, over this issue and offer solace and hope to those who still struggle, and/or have yet to struggle because they refuse to even think about the issue.

For me, faith, spirituality, call it what you will, is the only answer that makes any sense.

As for me, I have no doubt that when my time comes God will have prepared me to accept it and to look forward to a beautiful future beyond this place that is beyond my ability to even comprehend. But I did not get to this place easily, nor will many others.

You and I and others, like High Lonesome, can help share our experiences and knowledge to make the path easier for others.

Meanwhile, I agree that "gratitude for the life [we are] given" can save us from the fear of death, and give us the strength and courage to deal with the decay, pain, and dying that we may go through toward the end. As you say, " I knew that it meant I would have to do things I had not done before, face challenges I had declined before, and that all was well. I am ever grateful for my life and fearless in living it as well as I can."

That is a wonderful place to be in this life. Helping others reach a similar spot is worth doing.

Blessings, my dear friend. Keep up the good work.

Thanks to all who have read, and a special thanks for you kind and insightful comments.

Monte
I should read "The Denial of Death" again. It was entirely intellectual to me because I read it when I was too young to grasp fully what Becker was saying.
your comments about the shortness of life in the first section are very true; I think that modern childhood and youth offer few immediate examples of death; youth is full of constant distraction; no time to think of it; after my parents and all my Aunts died a few years ago, I could no longer have the feeling that life goes on forever; I think about the after life, and death constantly; not in a negative way, but searching for the best and true path to the end of my life on this earth; bless you
Thank you for a beautifully written post, the meaning is true for me in many ways. God had forgiven me long before I first asked for forgiveness and I am grateful.

I don't understand why people wish to take away my faith in God. There have been many times when the only one who stayed with me was God, all others were busy, or I was too much trouble or unworthy. I feel him in my heart so I will keep him there, I am always good enough for God, what a gift and I am not so thoughtless that I would use him and move on, even knowing he will be there again if I am selfish.

I too think this is a good post for everyone. I must be honest, with the life I've had, I wouldn't have cared about your post, if I didn't love God. Many times in my life I would have retaliated against others. At the least I would have said cruel things, at the worst I would have sought to destroy many peoples lives. God forgives me for those thoughts and feelings too, and I could not hurt those he loves just as much as he loves me. Just like Jesus healed everyone. If I had to earn it by being good, my name would have Hell written beside it. I needed this, thanks again.
Hi, Kathy: It is funny how at some point in our lives we become aware or our mortality in a very visceral way. Losing loved ones who have been a part of your life from the beginning is certainly one way that happens. And when it does it seems we have a choice to make: to let our anxiety and fear take over or to move on to a keener understanding of living with the inevitability of it, and see it as a passage. I am so happy that you have focused on the latter, and have found a positive way to view both death and the after life. And most of all, that you spend your time "searching for the best and true path to the end of my life on this earth."

l'Heure Bleue: I should be thanking you for your thoughtful comments which reveal a wonderful ability to overcome the negative in your life, and your own harmful feelings and actions, transforming yourself, with God's help and blessing, into a person who is loving and thoughtful. I love this insight of yours: "I feel him in my heart so I will keep him there, I am always good enough for God, what a gift; and I am not so thoughtless that I would use him and move on." I wish for you continued blessings.

Monte
An interesting explication, Monte, and a fittingly universal lesson at the end. I will carry it with me. And I thank you for that.
Hey, Pilgrim, good to see you here. Glad you got something out of this one.

Monte
Gratitude is the beginning of love. Thank you for the reminder.
What a splendid post. And you know, Monte, the lepers healed came away with skin like that of a little child. Let the reader understand: This true story tells you that you can be spiritually healed, just as if you never did anything wrong - if you'll let Him.
Thanks, RP Much appreciate your reading of this essay. "Gratitude is the beginning of love" is a wonderful way to put it.

Brad: I find that many people do not, perhaps cannot, open their hearts to powers beyond themselves. I do not fault them because it is difficult for me to get out of my own way a lot of the time so God can work on my own healing, be it physical, emotional or spiritual. Reading your work I know that you understand what I mean. Blessings, friend.
Hi, Jane. I always considered you an OS friend. I love this line, because I identify with the feeling, "now, if i could just learn to complain and worry less. oh, and get mad less, too." Yep. We are certainly all too human. Thank God that there is a power greater than us that we can try to emulate. We will fail, sometimes more than others, but we are forgiven our failures. The sin is not to try to be a better, more loving, and compassionate person. Blessings.
And thank you for reading, Scanner. Blessings.

Monte
A beautiful interpretation of the story. Gratitude is also a gift. Thanks.
"And here is the first miracle: they obeyed"

I've never thought about it quite like that before. It is so interesting to read the Bible throughout different stages of one's life b/c such changing lessons stand out. Prior to the last 5 years of my life, I felt the invincibility of a child. Now that I've bore two children (with complications afterward) and a bout of Lyme Disease (after being bit by a tick on one of our numerous camping trips) I finally understand the importance of being grateful for my health. I may have prayed the words, but now I actually mean it.

I always learn when I visit you Monte, Thanks so much, I hope this finds you well.
Hi, YH: I am about the same medically, and doing fine otherwise. Hope is well with with you and yours and that you have a wonderful Thanksgiving time with family. I am not writing for a while, and don't yet know when I will return. But I always come back to check out comments when OS alerts me.

Blessings,

Monte