What do we give thanks for and what do we take for granted?
I found myself this morning shopping for Thanksgiving Dinner getting caught up with a sense of loss way beyond the simple experience of not finding charcoal or canned pumpkin. It was probably my first real pang of homesickness for the states. Some of my warmest memories of the US are set in kitchens with the smell of spice and the scent of smoke wafting in from a charcoal fire, drinking trinities and chopping vegetables and laughing and crying with people I love. I didn’t know I was trying to recapture that until I checked my email just now and found a half-dozen thanksgiving messages from the people who are missing me.
This gospel was the one I preached on for my last mass in my parish in Oakland. I guess, like the fool, I’m trying to build the barns to preserve the blessings God has given me. The kind of gifts that have changed me and sent my life along a different path. I guess I don’t trust God to do right now what he has done before—or do even more in a different place.
I wonder what it is like to live thanksgiving this year, at war, under threat. You’ll pick it up in the prayers for the mass today—this feast is always a looking back and a checking up. A looking back at blessings given—land, freedom, riches, and mission (how America feels its god-given mission)—and a checking up. “Are we still the ones given the gift? Are we still worthy of purpose? Or have we built up barns and defended them and tried to preserve our blessings by the work of our hands?”
Probably as a nation it is many years since we have asked ourselves such questions. On the downward slope of our worldly influence an easy cynicism feels more comfortable. But maybe we can ask our own selves those thanksgiving questions, looking back and checking up: remembering the blessings that set us on our life’s path and giving ourselves afresh to the purpose and the call.
Add comment November 21st, 2001