Delivered at the Annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Service of Southington, CT at St. Aloysius Church in Plantsville, CT. on Tuesday, November 22, 2011.
Each of us present at this interfaith Thanksgiving Service would doubtless be able to share some interesting personal thoughts and recollections about Thanksgiving Day. We’d hear about the gatherings of family and friends on a spirited holiday, rich in joy-filled memories; the excitement of busy preparations for days before; children watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, the arrival and happy greetings of the guests, the delicious appetizers and stimulating aperitifs; the roast turkey at the center of the table, surrounded by stuffing, cranberries, gravy and all the savory trimmings to be enjoyed right up to and including, heaven help us, the variety of desserts.
And, yes, there’d be wistful thoughts of Thanksgiving holidays in the distant past, of the joyful camaraderie, the football games, and the uniquely splendid blend of smells of Thanksgiving Day in a happy setting.
With its American roots going back nearly half a millennium, Thanksgiving is rich in faith, history, tradition and diverse cultural customs.
I remember, as a child, what a wondrous holiday it was with good food in abundance, games to play with my brothers and the other children while our parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles laughed with joy, grateful just be together, enjoying God’s gifts of that special day.
As I matured to a "certain age" my thoughts of Thanksgiving also matured.
First, I am most grateful for God’s greatest gift to me … my lifetime spent with a wonderful and loving wife, our beautiful children and the special treasures that are our grandchildren.
But the Good Lord didn’t stop there. No. To accompany me in my life’s journey, he blessed me with loving parents, a wholesome family, the gifts of education, values, the discovery of personal skills, talents, aptitudes and an attitude for using them productively in my work. I thank God for what I have experienced, learned and what I have been able to share with others.
As I ambled through all this today,in a quietly prayerful stream of thought, my mind turned to the stark reality that right at this very moment today, and again on Thursday, and continuing into next week and beyond, there will be people who are hungry. There will many without shelter. There are the sick and the ill-clothed.
With a sense of deeper helplessness, my mind drifted to those who are in the solitude of loneliness, the uninvited who will be alone on Thanksgiving. Alone on that day of gatherings! God, please be with them! Bring us to them, if only in heart.
Alas, for me, the answer to these prayerful ponderings came back to the essential mystery of God.
No matter how we say the name of our one God, be it Elohim (אֱלהִים) in Hebrew, Deus in Latin, Waheguru (ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ) in Punjabi, Allah (حاكم قوي) in Arabic,I know that while the nature of God remains infinitely beyond full human comprehension, God is not some sort of Super Human creature prowling the universe, applying His magical works.
Rather, the miracle is that In creating us, I believe God has done and continues to do his work. Our hands are his hands. Our feet are his feet. Our minds and hearts are his, as are the rich blessings he bestows on us … all gifts to be shared with the least of his children … through our ability to interconnect the meaning of the words: faith … hope … charity … and love; the love of neighbor God commands us to have for others and empowers us to have.
In closing, I would like to read of a short poem sent to me yesterday by its author, my dear friend, the Rev. Henry C. Frascadore. It’s called:
KEEPING A LOW PROFILE
the widow kept a low profile.
only one person noticed her gift.
two small coins slipped into the basket.
that is all she had.
she gave what she had.
this morning’s soft wind did the same.
with delicate fingers it wove a rug
a circular oriental rug
made with the autumn leaves that
had fallen on the polished black walnut
surface of the pond
and carefully placed it
around the harmony sculpture.
like the widow
the wind kept a low profile
and gave its gift
with hardly a notice.