From the Sabbatical Minister - November 27, 2019

Let Us Give Thanks

Thanksgiving mornings in my house always began the same way: a slice of Mom’s coffee cake, warm from the oven, a big glass of orange juice, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade on the television, and newspaper spread out on the dining room table so we could polish the silver. The scents of cinnamon and tarnish remover blended into an oddly comforting mélange of warm tininess, made more complex by the sautéing onions that would go into the stuffing, which would go into the bird. Even now, just thinking about it, I can smell that odd combination of scents and I am transported to a different time and place.

My memories of childhood Thanksgivings are positive – and I am grateful for them, because they remind me of my family and of experiences that shape who I am today. Yet not all of us are grateful for our memories of this time of year. We are entering a complex season, where messages of family and connection and tradition may bristle against memories of anger or scarcity or frustration. Some of us may struggle with loneliness or depression because of loss or simply distance. Others may overload their Thanksgiving tables to make up for all the years when there wasn’t enough. Others still may have to work and may have always had to work, and so the day isn’t a holiday at all.

But no matter how we view the day – with all its complexities – I want to remind us to find the space to be grateful.

Gratitude isn’t an easy thing some days, I know. In our darkest times there seems to be nothing to be grateful for. But I want to challenge you to look around you right now and express gratitude for what is nearby. Perhaps it is the computer or mobile device you’re reading this on; you can be grateful for the technology, for eyes that work well enough to see it, for the electricity to power it. Perhaps it’s the table and chair where you’re sitting; you can be grateful for the hands that crafted them and their sturdiness. See? Things to be grateful for already! There’s no limit to what you can be grateful for. It doesn’t have to be big things; it can be the little things – the smile from someone across the pew on Sunday, the smell of the crisp fall day, the cup of coffee that fuels your morning tasks.

The key is not to stay stuck at the chair or the coffee – it is to then to be grateful for bigger things: the breaths we take, the thoughts we have, the tenderness and generosity we feel, the ability we have to help and serve others, the inspiration we get from truth and beauty, the comfort we draw from others, and the memories of places, people, and moments that make us who we are. The CUUC community, who holds us in covenant, and who always makes room for one more.

Let us be grateful for the abundance of gratitude, remembering what Meister Eckhart taught us: if the only prayer we say is “thank you” it is enough.

Let us give thanks.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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