Thursday, November 26, 2009

On Giving Thanks

 The question was asked a few days ago: What are you thankful for this year?

I looked around the table at friends gathered.  We all seemed a little embarrassed and put on the spot, which is awfully weird for church people four days before Thanksgiving at an annual event called the Agape (Love) Meal. 

"I guess I should have known that was coming,"  I said.  Everyone laughed.  Then we made a few jokes about what we are not particularly thankful for: conservative TV pundits, the economy, the extra pounds headed to our waistlines in the coming days.   

It was a table of eleven well-fed, highly-educated Americans.  We had all driven cars to the event.  We were wearing clean, weather appropriate clothes, and sat in a candlelit room full of 120 people, any one of whom would have walked a mile or more with any one of us on his/her back, if that were necessary.  

Why were we so squirmy?

I can only speak for myself.

It seems I'm so drenched in the good life I can't even formulate an honest response to the question.  I guess, truth be told, I'm a little self-conscious about the utter blessedness of my days...

I have had nothing but opportunity this year - to write, to refresh my soul, to rediscover deep joy, to connect with the sweetest little amazements of this life; things like:  rain falling off my roof, babies smiling at me from their car seats, a full moon over the ocean, fresh greens in baskets at a local farm stand. 

I will sit at a table later today with my mother, who eight months ago had a heart attack after chopping down a tree in her front yard.  Today, she is cooking a turkey.

I have never been hungry.

I have always been loved.

I have stayed out of hospitals and chemo facilities and a myriad of scary sounding diagnostic machines.

I have not bailed a child out of jail, a husband out of rehab, a family member out of financial ruin, or a friend out of an abusive marriage.
The question is just too easy.   

So, please let me take a moment to say thank you...

To those of you who help keep my eyes open to the fact that life is, indeed, very good.

To those of you who trust me with your stories of brokenness and heartache when it comes your way.

To friends and family who struggle, alongside me, with the absolute abundance that defines our American lives.  Thank you for teaching me, reminding me, leading me to see the big hurting world that lives outside my warm and cozy upper middle-class window.

I am about to watch the sun rise outside that very window. A clear and beautiful morning is emerging.  I am huddled around a good cup of coffee and a day that will be filled with the comfort of family.

I will pause in these moments to give thanks - and to pray for a sunrise like this in the days of each of your lives as the next year miraculously unfolds. 

Give thanks.


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