A good time to count our blessings | Editor's Notebook

An arctic storm brought a big freeze to the islands. Our school district faces a $717,000 deficit. Our community and state are caught in the national recession. Businesses are struggling to hold on as islanders tighten their purse strings.

It’s easy to be grumpy, what with having to navigate icy roads while worrying about the economy and that IRA and/or 401K.

But a neighbor said something to me the other day that set me on a path of realizing just how fortunate we are.

I caught a ride to work with William Morrissey. As he downshifted and slowed on an icy patch of Cattle Point Road on Mount Finlayson, I was tempted to grumble about a weather pattern that was cramping my style.

Bill’s comment, as we traversed that stretch of road with its sweeping view of the strait: Our drive to work must be the most beautiful in the world.

Amid the chaos of the storm-rattled week, other blessings shone through the ice and snow.

Sure, the roads were icy and snowy. But they would have been worse if not for the shoveling and sanding that county and town public works crews did while we were asleep.

A lot of people are struggling to make ends meet. Joyce Sobel of the Family Resource Center told me Friday that she had processed 30 applications for rental assistance — a record.

Her attitude: “Fortunately, we have the funds,” she said.

The Family Resource Center is part of a safety net of about 100 organizations that meet real human needs on a daily basis. Like those public works crews at night in a storm, you might not see them working, but imagine what our lives would be like if they didn’t do what they do ... if the San Juan Island Community Foundation didn’t raise $750,000 for our schools and other non-profits ... if the United Way didn’t raise $150,000 to help more than 30 organizations meet local needs ... if the Food Bank didn’t hand out food twice a week to a growing constituency ... if service clubs didn’t do what they do to meet health and social needs on the island.

Sure, times are tough. But it’s fair to say that, on San Juan Island, you can stumble and someone’s there to catch you. Ask for help, and help will come. You can’t buy that with your 401K.

My point: In a society that for so long has put so much stock in acquiring, consuming and hoarding, perhaps it’s a good time to take stock of what we do have. And be thankful.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

— Contact Richard Walker at 378-5696 or rwalker@sanjuanjournal.com.

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