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Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Time for Gratitude

Hello Troops,

Thanksgiving 2008 has passed. Tomorrow we return to work.
We all have much to be thankful for. We live in the world's most powerful and free nation. Compared to the rest of the world we all live in various stages of luxury. We have access to the
world's best medicine and educational systems. We have good friends and loving families.

Today I sat in church looking at my extended family all gathered for the holiday. Many of us are reaching that point in life where the dust won't brush off any longer. It gathers in our hair, shading the dark hair of youth with white strands of time. In some, the rich forests are thinning
- a thought that passed through my mind as I ran my hand through my own hair. I smiled, remembering how thick it was thirty years ago. Back then the BYU barber needed to take the thinning shears to it. Now I ask the barber if I can get a discount; after all, it takes less time to trim what's left. It causes a chuckle - the courtesy laugh you get from someone that has heard that one a number of times.

During one of the talks I studied the face of my older sister. She is eleven months older in actual age but years older in life's experiences. Her face shows the brushstrokes of time. How quickly it paints its masterpieces. Was it yesterday we shared a bedroom as children? Was it yesterday we walked to school together - or the day before? We were children, and in the time it takes for a
season to change, I see her surrounded in her children and grandchildren's love. When did it happen?

Her face is a work of art in the making. Each year lines are added where there were none. Each
line - a story beautiful in the telling and others painful in the living. Each line a reminder that time has its way with us. When you are young you don't understand, but you soon learn. Time will paint with oils based in laughter and tears. My sister's face has the marks of a young mother sitting by the bedside of her oldest child in a hospital. He is clinging to life after being struck by a car. He lived but damaged. The tear red color left her eyes years ago but the experience is forever
recorded for all to see.
I glanced over at my mother's hands holding a hymn book. Time has been at work. Her hands bring memories of my grandmother's hands passed from mother to daughter. Those are the hands that raised eight children. Those are the hands that ran a household on a budget so lean we all feared a long dark winter. Those are the hands that prepared her own mother for burial.
Hands that someday I won't be able to hold any longer.
I look at my own hands and see my father's. They are looking old. Time is at work. I look around at the young faces around me. So many young couples and so many children. What will time paint on their faces? What lessons will they learn? When will they sit in church one day and realize what the seasons have brought?

I'm thankful this week for each line on my face and the wrinkled hands. Each, like grooves on a record, play the notes of happy and sad tunes. Each a part of me. We are all unfinished works of Time. It will continue painting until it is done with us and the completed masterpiece is
carried into the last good night.

Spend this holiday season thanking the people that have played a role in your life. Enjoy family and friends. Enjoy the meals and the football. Enjoy making new memories. At the end of the day touch your face and hands and remember - all is recorded there. A badge for all to see of courage and life!

Mr. Williamson
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