Luke 17:11-19 – As Jesus continued his journey to Jerusalem, he traveled through Samaria and Galilee. As he was entering a village, ten persons with leprosy met him. They stood at a distance from him and raised their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!” And when he saw them, he said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” As they were going they were cleansed. And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. He was a Samaritan. Jesus said in reply, “Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?” Then he said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.”

I spent the day today with refugees who fled everything they knew and loved to keep their family alive. One family with five children attempted three times to make it from Syria to Jordan, only to be turned back at the border. On their fourth attempt they were granted asylum and eventually ended up in El Cajon. They have nothing, but they are safe and alive, and so, so thankful.

This week we give thanks. We give thanks for the food on our tables, for a roof over our heads without the sound of bombs in the background, for a job, for one more day with loved ones around us, for being alive to see a sunset, laugh with friends, or make music in a choir. At a recent conference session on living mindfully, our speaker asked us to sit for a few minutes in silence, close our eyes and picture what we are most thankful for. As we opened our eyes, I looked around to see a room full of tears. Sometimes we forget to stop and think about what or who we’re really thankful for, but this practice of mindfulness is not only rewarding, but life changing. I invite you to begin today. Take two minutes. Close your eyes. Think about just one thing that you are most thankful for in your life.

If it’s been a tough week or month or year and you’re having a hard time coming up with something, be reminded of those Syrian refugees who fled everything they had to live for just one more day. And when times get tough and you can’t make it through a day without crying, thank God for the chance to be alive and shed those tears, to feel emotion, to know the joy and pain of loving something or someone so much that tears can fill your eyes.

Life is a gift. And if you’re reading this, you have it. We are most alive when we live in the present and choose to be thankful. Whatever came to your mind as you closed your eyes, rejoice and be glad. Thank God for that gift. And when you gather around the table this week, be present with those around you. Put the phone away. Look into their eyes. See their heart and recognize the life that sits next to you. And when you’re tempted to stand up from the table to clean those dishes, just sit. The dishes can wait. That moment can’t.

What a crazy, beautiful life we get the chance to live. Live it fully.

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