The fourth Thursday of November has always been my favorite holiday. It comes during my favorite season, autumn. In my favorite sports, football is going strong and basketball is beginning. It’s a time when things slow down for a minute. I’ve always enjoyed the mental exhilaration and challenge of learning, but a little break after the first 3 months of the school year is welcome. And this is a brief pause before the encroaching rush of Christmas. So this is a great time for reflection.
Thanksgiving is inherently about acknowledging the hand of someone else in whatever good fortune we have found. It means turning positive attention to others – but to who? Some people gather around the dinner table and, before they enjoy the feast, they share something they are thankful for. Something they are thankful for. And these days, when there is so much negative in this world and so much difficulty we experience, it’s refreshing to focus for a minute on the positive. But to whom do we give the credit for these good things?
We are grateful to our ancestors – those who have passed on long ago and those who remain with us on earth for a while longer. They have endured harder and more dangerous times than even ours, but they survived to pass on life to us. Some taught us hard-earned lessons, some offered tender comfort, they all left a legacy of some sort. We are grateful to our contemporary families, who first taught us about relationships. Brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, and cousins of various degrees. No matter how these relationships have gone, the permanence of the familial connection has taught us to trust or to set boundaries. We are grateful to friends – the old, the new, and the once were. They offer camaraderie – someone who chose to go along on the journey.
For most everyone, we are grateful to God, our Creator. On the other 364 days we can blame ourselves (humanity) for the mess we’ve made of this world. But today we thank our merciful God for whatever spark of good that we have within us. We appreciate the fortunate breaks in our lives that we did not cause, but we recognize were steered by Your heavenly hand. We are grateful for the whisper of your Spirit within us, guiding us to a better path – whether we listened or not. We are thankful for the times when we made grave mistakes but the expected catastrophe that should have resulted never appeared. For whatever you did Lord, we are thankful. We thank you God for the wisdom to be thankful.