There is no need for me to elaborate on the year we have experienced together …or should I say, apart?. 2020 has been a challenging year, for sure. As we approach Thanksgiving, the question came to mind; can we still be thankful?

I recently shared a quote with our hospice team from 17th Century teacher, poet and author, Lucy Larcom that reads: “If the world seems cold to you, kindle fires to warm it.” This quote makes me think of perspective and our power to change our situation. Do we do nothing and allow feelings of dread, sadness and depression to take over? Or do we choose another path?… one in which we kindle fires that can lead to changing our outlook?

Sharon and I have been campers the entire 42+ years of our marriage. In our younger days, we would pack up the kids, head to a campground, set up the tent and enjoy nature together. We now have a camping trailer (because comfort becomes more important as you age), but we still enjoy getting out there in the trees, sitting around a warm campfire that always seems to be able to send the smoke in your direction (what is the science behind that?).

Although we have camped all our married life, we still found a way to make it new this year by increasing our love for hiking. We took some first-time (for us), fairly-local hikes that were just awesome! We hiked Minister Creek Trail to the overlook for a nice view; we hiked paths at Cook Forest that were very familiar to us and found some new paths to explore; we hiked trails that overlook the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon and more. This was a summer of social distancing at its best!

My point is that; in a year where the world seems cold to us, we can find ways to kindle the fire.

If you are a person of faith, you can spark the tinder by drawing near to God through scripture reading and prayer. In James 4:8, we read, “Come near to God and he will come near to you…” and in verse 10: “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” In other words, he will kindle your fire.

So, the question remains: can we still be thankful? The answer from my perspective is a definite, yes! 2020 will be a year that goes down in history, but I believe that every time this year is mentioned, my mind will fill with fond memories of our treks into God’s creation. The Bible verse that kept coming back to me was Psalm 19:1. “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” That became my theme-verse for our explorations this year.

It is not too late. If you are overcome with the coldness of the year, you still have opportunities to find ways to kindle the fire and come back into the warmth. Use your imagination. Get creative! Make some positive memories and be thankful.


Rev. Randy Kightlinger, Chaplain

VNA of Venango County