A Thanksgiving Reflection

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 “Still, a great deal of light falls on everything.”

Vincent Van Gogh

 

I arrive to Thanksgiving, 2020 in such a different place than this time last year. I’m feeling what I imagine marathoners must experience around mile 18, less pluck,—but ever determined to press on. We are in a tender season. Many of our “soul” anchors such as familial relationships, health, job and financial security, and faith have been tested. I remain grateful that God designed us to adapt, stretch—resurrect. I remember walking my dog Louis down Hudson Street in New York City on Thanksgiving day following 9/11 and being in such awe of how despite the loss and looming fear, New Yorkers radiated resilience and gratitude. We chose kindness and solidarity as the way to make it through. I witnessed humanity at its best. It’s a fine model for Thanksgiving, 2020. This is not the year for heated debates, volcanic eruptions, and snark. We are all running the race set before us as best as we can. Tenderness should rule the day.

 

In these strange and unsettling times, I am leaning into the wisdom found in Ecclesiastes. The author is asking us to focus on the long game: There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens. God has made everything beautiful in its time; placing eternity in the human heart. 

 

The reality is over our lifetime we will experience a multitude of seasons. Fullness of life comes with seasons of feeling uprooted, even being torn down; seasons of weeping and mourning; seasons of warring and loss. But they are promised to be followed by seasons of mending and healing, laughing and dancing, embracing and loving. As my mother reminds me, “joy does’t last, but neither does suffering.” 

 

Van Gogh proclaimed in a letter to his brother during a difficult season, “Still, a great deal of light falls on everything.” I love how he says, “Still!” Hope lives in that one word!! Regardless of life’s circumstances, or the challenges of this current season, let us find  the glints of light. 

 

May there be an abundance of grace and peace this Thanksgiving!

A Prayer of Thanksgiving

Holy One,

How do we begin to say thank you?

How do we stand before you in our humble garb of flesh and bone
and thank you for all that we are—

Divinely-made, tenderly loved, and eternally-bound.

How do we say thank you for all that we have—

That one part of us that the world cannot have

Because it belongs to you.

The place where you dwell so we are never left alone.

The place that radiates your glory,
and is charged with delivering your Message
of Love into creation.

How do we say thank you for giving us our mothers and our fathers,
our sons and daughters, friends and enemies,
neighbors and strangers—

To practice love, to practice healing, to practice mercy,
to practice grace on your behalf.

How do we say thank you for the obstacles placed in our path
the bruised knees and broken hearts
that prove how strong and resilient you created us to be.

How do we say thank you for every dawn
that breaks through the dark night,
ushering in joy in the morning.

 How do we say thank you for the second and the third
and the fourth and the thousandth chance—you give us to try again,
try and love better, try and be better versions of ourselves,
try and live lives that are holy. 

How do we say thank you for your invitation to break bread
at your table of thanksgiving—
the Table where all are welcome, all are accounted for,
and all are praised as holy and heaven bound.
It is at this table of Thanksgiving where we come and seek nourishment deep in the belly of our souls—
 

And leave pointed in the direction of our salvation.

Ho do we say thank you?

It all comes down to love—

Let it be said:

We loved well and often.

Amen.

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Listen to David Braccini perform Vivaldi’s Les Quatre Saisons at Sainte Chappelle in Paris while you are cooking your turkey!

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