As I was musing over what to speak to you about today, I emailed a Jesuit friend of mine in Kentucky, and complained about, well, not knowing what to speak to you about today. I told him, "I don't know what in the world to write. The problem is, I think, that I'm too darn happy. Misery breeds brilliance," I wrote to him, "and for the first year in recent memory, I am such a happy camper that I'm afraid I won't have anything substantial to say."
The next day I received his reply. "You silly goose,"
he wrote, "Thanksgiving is all about gratitude. Just talk
about being happy!" I think this is sage wisdom.
Thanksgiving is a day for us to stop our normal activities, to look back over the long year behind us, and to pay attention, to notice the blessings that God has bestowed upon us.
Personally, I am grateful for my jobs. Many of you know that I am something of an eccentric. Surprise! Me and the 9 to 5 workaday world are like oil and water. One of my most miserable periods was when I was working 9 to 5 for a publishing company in Pt. Richmond. I didn't like them and they didn't like me. It was hell. And then into that difficult and stormy existance, God brought sunshine. He brought me first the job with the PACIFIC CHURCH NEWS, and later, the editorship of PRESENCE. I now work unsupervised at home. I take the dogs for walks when they beg me to. I nap when I am sleepy. I work late mornings, and again late into the night. I work when my internal clock says it's time to work, whether it's 2pm or 2am. I am respected and liked by my employers and my work is commended by all. Thank you, God, for work that honors you, and also honors my creativity and individuality. Thank you.
I am grateful for my ministry at my church, and to you here at Water's Edge. In this place God has called many people from diverse backgrounds to be community for each other, to worship God together, regardless of what religions we belong to. Here we pray, and sing together, and to learn to be brothers and sisters as well.
I am grateful for my country, and for the men and women who lost their lives to protect it; and I am proud of they way my country-people have helped each other out in times of great trial. I have learned that my parents' generation with their well-intentioned protests for peace didn't have all the answers, and that there are generations that came before them who have startlingly different perspectives on the world which I have never been exposed to.
Thanks be to God for a country where I am free to worship in any way that feels right to me. For a place where the rights of the lowliest individuals are upheld, and the oppressed can seek refuge. I thank God for a country that once a year sends people home from work to their families for no other purpose than to enjoy the warmth of their loved ones and to say "Thank You," to God.
And finally, I want to say thank you to God for another busy year of beginnings and endings, of sorrow and joy, of heights and lows and everything in between. I know many of us in this community have known great loss in this year, but I hope that even as we grieve our losses, we can also take this time as an opportunity to thank God for the gifts that the people we have lost have been in our lives. Do those who are in heaven celebrate Thanksgiving? I wager that they do, each and every day.
And of course we celebrate Thanksgiving every time when we come together to pray and offer up our Thanksgivings.
I'd like to ask you to close your eyes for a moment. Cast your inward gaze over the past twelve months and identify those things which God has done for you. Find those moments of pain when God held you, those moments of elation when God celebrated with you. Those moments of frustration when God carried you. Those times of sharing where God became the very stuff that we shared. Sit with these images for a moment. Relish them, the good and the bad, the painful and the joyous, the loneliness and the belonging, all of these times are the warp and woof that go to make up the rich tapestry of our lives. And pause to turn to your maker, to be held by him, to offer your thanks, spoken or unspoken. And in a minute, we'll pray.
The great mystic Meister Eckhardt once said that if the only
prayer you ever said in the whole of your life were "Thank
you," it would be enough. So let us pray: Thank you, God,
thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Amen.