On Gratitude

Our sleep was suddenly interrupted at 2am Tuesday by loud knocking on the door and the sound of voices in our hallway.

“Police!” two officers shouted.

“Dad, are you in trouble?” yelled my son, aged 6, from under his blankets. He later explained he feared my wife’s warnings about speeding had finally caught up with me.

“No mate. No one’s in trouble,” called out the officer as I fumbled around in the dark, madly trying to find clothes.

I was still more asleep than awake as police explained it wasn’t my driving but someone else’s that was at issue. More specifically, it was someone else driving my car. My car that had mysteriously made its way from our Mount Louisa driveway to the other side of town where it had been involved in a police chase before disappearing … and all while we had slept.

It’s the second time in a few months that someone has stolen our car. A week before Christmas I woke tat 3am to find three men quietly pushing our vehicle down the driveway. I yelled. They fled on foot. No harm done.

This time I stayed asleep, oblivious to the whole thing. Our vehicle was found abandoned later that morning, smashed into a gutter.

It’s a strange feeling, one sadly familiar to Townsville residents, to have your home broken into and your property stolen. The initial shock that thieves have broken into your home, rifled through your things and absconded with your car is quickly followed by anger – anger at the injustice, anger at the brazenness, anger at the inconvenience it now causes.

But anger becomes a cancer of the soul if it is allowed to fester. And so having had our privacy breached and our property stolen, I’ve decided to be thankful.

First, I am thankful that we happen to own a car others think worth stealing! In a twisted kind of way, their thieving is a reminder that we have been blessed with nice things – nice enough for them to take.

Second, I’m thankful it was others doing the stealing and not I. I’m thankful to have never been in such a desperate position that I’ve felt the need to take from others. But more than that, I’m thankful my conscience has never been so calloused that I could imagine doing such a thing.

Third, I’m thankful it was our car and not our lives that were taken. One can’t help but wonder what might have happened had we woken, as strangers with evil intent crept through our house. Or, God-forbid, had one of our precious children interrupted them. Cars can be replaced.

Fourth, I’m thankful no-one, including the thieves, was hurt when they crashed our car. It would be a lie to say that at 2am part of me did not wish them harm, but I’ve learned it is unwise to entertain vengeful thoughts. To wish someone else harm, no matter their crime, rarely makes a difference to them but is always injurious to one’s own soul.

Fifth, I’m thankful that over breakfast that morning I was able to talk with my sons about how it felt to be robbed. “Really sad,” said the melancholy. “Really mad!” said the choleric.

We agreed that if this was how it felt to have your things taken, we would never inflict such emotions on others by taking their things. We also managed to find some things about the whole episode to laugh about. It was a good family moment in the midst of a horrible experience.

Sixth, I’m thankful, for reasons self-evident, that it was my car rather than my 80s music collection that was taken. (I should point out that I’m the only one in our house who feels this way).

And finally, I’m thankful that having been burgled and robbed, we still have so much to be thankful for. Seen in that light, they really didn’t take anything from us at all.