Seasons clock the passage of time within the year and this present moment is no different. We are on the edge of a national feast day for some, a day of mourning for the First Nation people. And no, I am not being negative about Thanksgiving. It is a great day for those of us who were born in the generations that followed that first celebration for the Anglos who were seeking a new freedom, one they achieved at the sacrifice of others who welcomed these strangers and taught them how to survive, only to be betrayed by them later on. But I digress, and this is a topic for another day, another time.
There is much to be thankful for as Americans born here or those who are newly come to escape persecution or oppression of one kind or another. Really it all boils down to escaping extreme evil for the lesser types that one can find some negotiated truce with here in our land of plenty. What we chose to do with the lesser evils and the plenties that are not always beneficial, that is between us and "them" respectively. As a Christian--I like to think I am trying to be one of the real Christians who strive to be Christlike, and not Pauline, or fundamentalist, or legalistic, or completely delusional--it is my goal to be like Jesus, and care for my neighbor and to love God in all of His/Her aspects. Truly those of us who strive for this fall and fail each day, but the fact remains that we have our eyes on the end of the race, so we pick ourselves up and keep moving forward. Forward...that is the concept some find so hard to grasp. Loving all, without discrimination or prejudice as we await the coming of the kingdom. And I do not agree with those who would hasten its coming by encouraging hatred and unrepentant hearts. I believe in letting God follow His/Her own schedule. Besides who am I to tell God when to come and finish the work set out to be done? I trust my courteous Lord to know His business and by so doing I am like the child He asks us to all be in this life, trusting in His care and love, the grace and mercy that He shows us, unending.
And so tomorrow will come and we will feast, either in a home of our own, or one not of our making. For the homeless and loveless, there will be a place at a table and a bed in a local shelter, or under a bridge where some will manage to have foraged enough to have a dinner of thanks with others who share their fate at this time and place, and blankets enough--perhaps--given freely by those who work to ring bells and collect loose change--to buy the blankets to give to the cold and home-wanting among us.
But its not just food and warmth and a place to lay our head that we will give thanks for;
I will think of the beauty that surrounds us each day and more often than not goes unnoticed. The winter song bird, the soft brown rabbit, the
evergreen leaves of the laurel, a still flowering geranium or hollyhock, the vaulted ceiling of branches adorned with lovely leaves, moss growing green among the cobbled stones of walks leading here and there.
I will be thankful for my job, the home I own because my mother gave it to me before she died, the dog that accompanied me through dark times and now plays in heaven with his precedents from my earlier life. My friends scattered throughout the country and overseas, my parish family, my priestly friends, my neighbors where I live, the woman at the grocery store who checks my purchases and always wishes me a good day and remembers my name, the books I get to read, the music I am privileged to hear, the hymns I get to sing, the warm clothes I wear, the sturdy shoes on my tender feet...so much, too much to name...all things and civil rights I enjoy and wish others had too, everywhere.
I give thanks for the grumpy and often rude patients I deal with. Grumpy old men and women, veterans, who have seen misery a hundredfold, and yet I care for them, knowing they are from my parents' generation, that Greatest Generation, who sewed up not only America's freedom but that of the world. I am thankful for women like Rose Volland in Nazi occupied France. What a story she could tell, and did eventually tell in her careful catalogs of art stolen by her Nazi occupiers in Paris.
I am thankful for the occasional cranky coworkers who have their own burdens to bear, and how I manage to turn their cloudy moods with a smile and kind word. I am not boasting, but simply showing what a tiny act of kindness can do to change a person in this world. Nowadays my patients, for the most part, say please and thank you, and refrain from foul language when calling my office. Some of them actually laugh now and wish me a happy day. Or call and tell me tasteful jokes, just to connect with another person in their lonely, isolated lives. Connecting with someone who makes time for them. It means the world to them and is a lifeline to the living.
In a few days, we will be on the eve of Advent, that anticipatory time before the coming of the Savior Christ, that Jesus boy, endearing child, aggravating teenager, then soon transformed mortal to Son of God, Emmanuel with us...in a few days time. At 5pm today, I will go and give thanks corporately with my church family at our Thanksgiving Eve service...a very good way to begin the feast of thanks.
So much to be thankful for, and I am very thankful for all you.
Let us look to the horizon and coming Light...