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Thanksgiving

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Last Sunday, my husband and I visited the local Unitarian church that feeds us so well. Jim and I sat near the front. The day’s leader took her place, lit the candles, and led the prayers that are prayed each Sunday—prayers of peace and of thankfulness for the freedom we’ve been given.   


I held Jim’s hand as I listened to a rare litany that captured my heart, that came across as a basic Jesus teaching. I sat forward not wanting to miss one word … 


Litany of Restoration
If, recognizing the interdependence of all life, we strive to build community, the strength we gather will be our salvation … 


If you are black and I am white, 
It will not matter.


If you are female and I am male,
It will not matter 


If you are older and I am younger,
It will not matter 


If you are progressive and I am conservative,
It will not matter 


If you are straight and I am gay,
It will not matter 


If you are Christian and I am Jewish
It will not matter 


If we join spirits as brothers and sisters, the pain of our aloneness will be lessened, 
And that does matter. In this spirit, we build community and move toward restoration. 


As we drove home, I reflected on the coming Thanksgiving feast, and what, after all, does really matter as we approach our table laden with all sorts of traditional nourishing fare.   


In my many years I’ve attended numerous Thanksgiving repasts, felt all manner of Thanksgiving grace poured out, lost myself in endless chatter with my tablemates about mundane and not so mundane matters.  


Would it be too much to ask that this spirit of Thanksgiving continue throughout the year? Rather than what I heard last weekend from the lips of my friend, a savvy and totally caring pastor.  


This world’s becoming more dangerous, more and more evil. Even if he thought so, does such a statement help to change anything? I guess he didn’t realize it—we rarely do—but that sort of fear mongering conversation accomplishes exactly the opposite of this season’s ennobling goodwill. 


This Thanksgiving, I pray for the goodness that matters, that we take a good close look at how goodness falls into our everyday life. This Thanksgiving I herald the gift of a fresh season from nature, of my neighbor’s kind deed of donating her bicycle to a homeless man, of my joy at finding a new friend at my toastmaster club. Of even of a recent spirited conversation with a friend of such (surprise!) different point of view. Yes, it all matters, every bit. 


I give thanks for a gay neighbor who prepared a special meal for a club member recently hospitalized. I’m thankful for the cheery volunteers of Grace ‘n Grits with whom I meet each week to prepare a huge breakfast for the homeless of Sanford. I lift up in prayer my stalwart immigrant friend from Bolivia who teaches me about perseverance, refusing to give up after losing his engineering job of long standing, not losing faith during the following lonely weeks until he landed an even better paying position. 


Dear friends, in this special season let’s renew our watchfulness over the airwaves’ prevailing currents of fear, to be receptive instead to God’s persistent goodness everywhere manifest. Let’s offer thanks for even those undesired economic mysteries we live with, if only as God’s topsy-turvy ways of teaching us things we evidently need to know and would otherwise shun. Let us honor both life’s highs and lows, including letting go of so much of what’s not good for us. Let us live with reckless trust in that constant gospel injunction crying out more than any other: fear not! 


I’m happy that my husband and I were there last Sunday to hear that beautiful summation of what really matters, and of Thanksgiving blessings that only await our proclaiming them.

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