Together, the two signs sent my thoughts down a twisting path. I thought of a church I visited last month where the dusty prints of biblical scenes in the hallway looked just as out-of-date as the "Color TV" sign. As German theologian Helmut Thielicke reminded us long ago, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever - but the church must always keep forwarding that message to an ever-new address.
But I also thought of how most of us take for granted creature comforts that used to be luxuries - and for many people in the world still are: a functioning car, one that beats walking. The mere existence of color TV as something to celebrate, not to mention hundreds of channels, plus streaming video.
Do we set the bar for happiness too high? Today I chanced upon Anna Kamienska's poem, "Gratitude":*
I was grateful to young leaves that they were willing
to open up to the sun
to babies that they still
felt like coming into this world
to the old that they heroically
endure until the end.
Should we not, as Kamienska suggests, "thank everyone for the fact that they exist" - everyone and everything. Should I not be grateful for the color TV that works, for the 10-year-old car that still starts when I turn the key?
After all, it beats walking.
*Translated by Grazyna Brabik and David Curzon, in Mark S. Burrows, ed.,
The Paraclete Poetry Anthology: Selected and New Poems
(Paraclete Press, 2016) p. 44.