Hometown gratitude

A proper Thanksgiving probably requires introspection in almost every compartment of our lives, from the intensely personal to the broadly theoretical. I’ve been thinking lately about the communities in which we live. Is there anything about them for which we can be grateful? I’d say there is, if we take the time to look for it.

Each person will need to consider his or her own hometown, but during my years with the Free Press I’ve probably encountered the character of my community, Hillsboro, more fully and directly than I ever had before. I’ve seen a few weaknesses and blind spots along the way, but I’ve seen a whole lot more that gives me hope for the future.

I’m thankful, for example, for the predominance of people in my town who still care for their neighbors, who go out of their way to show courtesy and manners, who still know the meaning of dependability and hard work.

I’m thankful we still have people who give themselves to public service, whether it be mayor, city council, school board, or simply participation on civic boards and committees. They do it for little if any pay, just a lot of hard work—and occasionally hard words.

I’m thankful for the strong churches of our community. They build the moral base upon which we act and respond. What’s more, I’m thrilled to see how churches and pastors in this community work together despite theological and historical differences.

I’m thankful to live in a town with a progressive attitude—at least on some issues. I’m beginning to understand how unusual that is in small-town America.

I’m thankful for at least a few brave souls in this town who launch out in new economic, spiritual or relational ventures, who reach beyond the limits of their comfort zone and take risks. They inspire me.

I’m thankful for strong schools and for teachers who gently push our kids toward excellence when they could just as easily push too hard or not push at all. It feels good to be able to trust the people in whose hands we place our most precious resource.

I’m thankful to live in a college town. We’re disappointed by the occasional missteps of students, but we often don’t realize how much we gain by the presence of so many quality young people, the accessibility of intellectual resources, the arts, athletic competition. Tabor College is a gift.

For that matter, life is a gift. In whatever hometown we happen to live. —DR

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