Ugh! Another Thanksgiving message! (1998)
or loving your body

Nov. 17, 1998

I was recently asked why I have pieces of breakaway glass on the dash and floor of my car. Well, my first impulse was to admit that I was too lazy to vacuum out my car from the little bicyclist incident from earlier this year. Although that statement would have reeked with truth (and I did admit it at the time), there is perhaps another reason I could give. When I see those little bits of glass and I really stop and think about it, I relive the moment when I saw a poor, helpless man (I'm much more sympathetic months later) on a bike being thrown by the force of my car, up into my windshield. Anyone recalling the event after it first happened will also remember I wasn't as charitable or kind in my description of him back then. However, over time, my anger at his trying to sue me when it was partially his fault for not having a light has subsided and I am able to look at the entire incident with the profound wisdom of hindsight.

So when I see this glass, I remember that night in a different way than I used to remember, and other thoughts fill my head. Over the course of my life, I have been in a few auto accidents. One as a child (our family van slipped off the road after hitting a patch of ice), one as a teenager (I was the bicyclist hit by a car), two on the mission (the first was the other guy's fault, the second, the tree's fault), and the aforementioned incident this year. Only one of them was truly damaging, and that one took its toll on my missionary companion, not me. All of them have taken a mind that easily forgets and shook it up a little. I am reminded of mortality and our precarious hold over it (or its hold on us, if you wish). I am also reminded just how precious that gift is.

Time has a way of distancing feelings, both the good and the bad. No matter how wonderful the Christmas of 1987 was (one of the few white Christmases I've, and the only one in Arizona), I can barely remember that day. No matter how horrible it was to see someone hurt, partially because of my driving, no matter how shaken I was, the feeling has faded. I have no idea what happened to the man I hit, but that is not the point of this essay. Fearing death and living an insulated, paranoid life is also not what I have in mind. No matter what I do, no matter whether I'm a saint (a nickname I had from people I barely knew in high school) or Satan's pen pal (or anywhere in between those two), I could be snatched away from "this mortal coil" and "kick the bucket" (that's Shakespeare and Dave Barry, respectively) at any moment. I must remember that I have been given the gift of life and use it. And because this is Thanksgiving season, I am forced to admit that now is a good time, but should not be the only time I am thankful for life.

In the course of my schooling, I have learned many things about the human organism. The more I learn, the more I am convinced we are no accident. It took a great architect to devise a system of hearing for us to blast out with loud music. It was no accident that created our visual system, allowing us to abuse it by staring at televisions and computer monitors too long. Our digestive system, while a great producer of revolting waste products, is still a work of art that could only have been designed by a genius. I could go on: the adaptability of our bodies, the perfect dance between skeleton and muscle, the intricate neural pathways that allow us to learn, to feel, the experience and live, the reproductive system that allows us to create in partnership with our Creator . . . the list is endless. This is no accident. Be grateful and live.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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