A word from Victoria I.S.D. Superintendent Quintin Shepherd

Closing thoughts: Thanksgiving

The following is an article provided by Supt. Quintin Shepherd of the Victoria I.S.D.

It is that time of year when we give thanks for the abundant blessings in our lives. I am especially grateful this year for reasons I cannot fully explain to myself, much less to you! Life experiences (age) definitely help put things in perspective and allow for a greater appreciation of the small blessings that happen in the face of adversity.

When we think about Thanksgiving, many of us picture a house full of relatives, everyone gathered together by a common bond. The word relative is interesting, and I am going to ask you to go on a brief, oneparagraph, word journey with me. The word relative derives from late Middle English, originally from Old French relatif, (-ive), from late Latin relativus, which means ‘having reference or relation.’ When we talk about our relatives, we are referencing our family. Our relatives are also our relation, as in I am related to the Shepherd family of Ophiem, Illinois (my hometown). The connecting point is that our relatives are our relation, or people we have a relationship with.

It really isn’t a stretch then to think about people in our social communities as family. If we have a relationship with a group and a common reference point, we become familiar and familial (note the common root word). This often happens where we work, as we become a work family. This can happen at a church with our church family. In almost any setting we can form these social relationships and common reference points and quickly establish family ties. Thanksgiving is an opportunity to give thanks for our family, in whatever way you choose to interpret the word family. I happen to take a very broad view of family.

So, as I give thanks this year, I am most certainly contemplating this past year and the great familial relationships and connections in my life. And, I have a question for you… when you give thanks for something that has happened in the past, what do you call it? Stop and think on this for a moment. I call it gratitude. Thanksgiving is a time for gratitude, and it seems nearly all of what we read about and hear about are the festivities designed around gratitude, or things that have happened in the past year. But what do you call it when you give thanks for something that is going to happen in the future? I call that faith. The faith I am speaking of is different than hope. Humans are prone to hoping for things and the things we hope for can become the near enemy of faith. As an example, in the past few weeks I’m sure many people hoped to win the lottery. This kind of hope is the near enemy of faith. To me, faith is surety or belief. There is undoubtedly hope and optimism in belief. Some might see religious implications in this statement, and I will leave you to interpret it in whatever way makes sense for you, but I have faith and thanksgiving that next year will be exactly as it is supposed to be, and I find peace and contentment in this thought. And in having this faith, I can predict gratitude next year at this time. The logic gets circuitous here, but now I can sense gratitude for a future that hasn’t happened because of my faith in that future as it is meant to be. I’m hopeful (in a humanistic sense) that your Thanksgiving is a rich celebration of both gratitude for what is, and faith for what will be. May you experience Thanksgiving for all things, past, present, and yet to occur.

By Supt. Quintin Shepherd of the Victoria I.S.D.