You and I have Thanksgiving on our minds this week: plans, memories and expectations about who we will be with and what that will be like.
One difference between a shallow and heartfelt anticipation of Thanksgiving depends on what we find ourselves grateful for, and the essential place of God in our gratitude. We have been told and may believe that God is the giver of all good gifts, but at a practical everyday level, we prefer to say, with our culture “mine and no one else’s.” It is simply hard to conceive that nothing is ours by right – not our talents, our so-called entitlements, our education, our family. I hope that when we encounter others we do say “They too are gifted.” For, so they are, to the glory of God, and the benefit of us all.
Here’s an exercise that I am going to do this week, and I invite you to do likewise. Print off this blog and for the list below, name people you know, personally or by reputation, world figures and people of history who fit these categories for which we can give thanks to this week:
- Creators of beauty
- People who empower others to grow
- Teachers of wisdom
- Memory keepers
- Questioners of things taken for granted
- Seekers of justice and peace
- God revealers
- Harvesters of food and goodness
- People who make us laugh
- Installers of foundations
- Consensus builders
- Interpreters of history
- Givers of legacies in society, church and family
- Meaning makers
- Animators of delight in all good things
- Celebrators of God’s creation
- Those who offer vision and hope
- Those who accompany us in faith and mission
- Those who create or enhance sacred spaces
- Those who reveal the contradictions in our public and cultural life
Remember the man whom Jesus cures of demons in Mark 5. 1 – 20? Once cured, the man wanted to follow Jesus, but Jesus tells him to go home! Go home to your family and friends and neighbors. Make it clear to them how much God has done for you.
Soon, it will be time to gather perhaps for Mass, meals, football, long walks, card games, conversations and relaxation. Figure out ways to have a short or long sharing of all the good gifts, especially the people with whom we have been graced. Share in some way, like the man Jesus cured, how much good God has done for you. Most especially, throughout the day, let there be a whisper of new realizations of gratitude to God in our hearts.
~Sister Joan Sobala