Strange words for a Thanksgiving morning, this sliver of a verse from the Veni Creator (Latin, Ninth Century, translated by John Cosin): Anoint and cheer our soiled face, With the abundance of thy grace.
At many dinner tables today – whether in well-appointed homes or at local feeding programs, many of us will be invited to give thanks for all the blessings of our lives. Sometimes we give thanks for an abundance of good fortune in the form of “stuff” and accomplishments, but more often we speak of family and good friends.
Last Thanksgiving was spent with my dear friend Spencer and his family. His mother has a wonderful tradition of passing around a large spoon. We go around the table, each reflecting on some aspect of our life journey. Last year we were thankful for friends and healed relationships, for our respective seminary journeys, and for the possibility for one at the table for asylum in the U.S. (which has since then been granted!). It was a tender time with friends who, out of sheer necessity, have become practiced at being truth-tellers. It was a time during which we gave thanks for good gifts in the context of understanding that each of us was blessed simply to be alive. We each in our own way had walked through seasons of life marked by great uncertainty and peril. As we each held the spoon, we shared an appreciation for the fragility of life and a deep gratitude for the grace that is our only hope.
Today, many in our churches and communities will take time to feed and comfort those less fortunate. Many in 12 step fellowships will not take the day off but, instead, will come together to give thanks for the precious gift of another day of life. This is the gift: the miracle of drawing breath, of being alive for another day, of hope. Everything else is gravy.
Let us also give thanks for those who have helped us along the way and for those who give so freely of themselves:
Heavenly Father, whose blessed Son came not to be served
but to serve: Bless all who, following in his steps, give
themselves to the service of others; that with wisdom,
patience, and courage, they may minister in his Name to the
suffering, the friendless, and the needy- for the love of him
who laid down his life for us, your Son our Savior Jesus
Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (Book of Common Prayer, p 260)
(photo taken at Holy Cross monastery)