Counting your blessings

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There are not many literary phrases I enjoy more than proverbs or as Hispanics say, DICHOS. Their origins are myriad. From ethnicity, nationalistic, history, literature-including the Bible.

I begin each day by rambling a tune and singing; “This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” From Psalm 118:24. At my age, 90, I’m glad to see each day, with all that it offers.

Therefore, I take it at its basic meaning. In spite of an occasional pain I “rejoice” in it. Stella tolerates my scat singing. Ala Louie Armstrong.

If the day turns out bad, I can always blame it on God. After all, He made it.

Most of my thoughts have either a religious or psychological connotation. For example, I like one that comes from the preaching of Rick Warren. “HURT PEOPLE, hurt people.” Think slowly of its meaning.

For example, men who assault their wives and children were more often than not assaulted by their father. The same goes for criminals.

Individuals that mock others or are sarcastic have a history of being hurt verbally.

The next dicho relates to the first one. “Live each day as if it was your last. But plan each day as if you were going to live forever.” I believe it is self-explanatory.

I heard a phrase today that piqued my mind; FACTS COUNT.  I equate it with another of my favorite phrases. Al Sharpton and Democratic Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan are given credit for it. The Senator is diseased. “Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but not to their own set of facts.”

The basic problem with this adage is that many times opinions are said as if they are facts. Those individuals that are most prone to doing this are politicians and ministers.

They are apt to use hyperbole, or outright lying. Our current President is noted for using hyperbole (exaggerations) and lying.  Too many times to repeat all of them. As a minister, I’m qualified to document such incidents. For example, there are two words for Scripture explanations: exegesis and eisegesis. The former is an explanation of the Bible verses that are based on the exact Hebrew or Greeks words.

The second word refers to what the minister injects into the wording with his own ideas. A word or phrase that is metaphorical can be interpreted in many ways, depending on the theological views of the minister or student. Usually under the guise of “interpretation.”

In one of my books I list 52 proverbs and I encourage the reader to focus on one for each week. My favorite proverb is one from Dr. Norman Cousins-one of my Literary Mentors. “No one knows enough to be a pessimist.”

First of all, the word “pessimism” is debilitating in itself.  It is negative and breeds unhappiness. Unfortunately, it also affects others and even family members. Beware of its insidious effect.

Norman Cousins suggests a valid answer. Basically, he is saying that pessimism is based on a lack of information. Pessimism is based on ASSUMPTIONS.

I count the next nine words as a proverb. Even though they are phrases from a Gospel song. “Count your many blessings, name them one by one.” I take it as a daily command, not only on Thanksgiving.

Karl Barth is considered by most Bible scholars to have been one of the greatest Bible authorities that ever lived. He said, “GRATITUDE (THANKFULNESS) IS THE ONLY ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE WE CAN MAKE TO GOD.”

Psalm 100:4, “Enter into His gates with Thanksgiving.” In addition to Christianity, every other religion in the world also places a priority on gratitude to its Deity.

Back to my proverb of “counting your blessings.” I like what the song says, “name them”. That is good advice. Gratitude is ambiguous-vague. It is specific. “The measure of health you have. The years you have lived-no matter the number, your skills to work and plan, your family, your friends, your memory, our country and the fact we were born in America, your church and the freedom to worship as you wish.” The list is endless.

Finally, Stella and I wish each of you a very Happy and Pleasant Thanksgiving.

Amen. Selah. So be it.

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Doc Abersold is a 87 year old man who has his Ph.D. in two emphases: Behavioral Medicine and Humanistic Psychology. He has been on 130 cruises – many as destination lecturer and has visited 84 countries.

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