It’s Thanksgiving in the United States.
I knew, conceptually, that Americans take this holiday very seriously.
I did not realize quite how Serious that meant.
But, in the spirit of thanksgiving, and thinking ahead to what I feel about the season of Advent*, I sent the following email yesterday**:
We met once or twice when I attended your church several weeks ago; I enjoyed the service and fellowship so much, but unfortunately I’m stuck working on Sunday mornings now and I haven’t been able to make it back.
I’ve been attending a home fellowship group still, though – they’re the ones who introduced me to your church, and I’ve been benefiting from the wisdom and warm community of your church even though I can’t make it on Sunday mornings.
I wanted to say “thank you”: the members of your church have been such a blessing to me as I settle into NYC, and I’m grateful to have found your church even though I continue to be mostly invisible in the community. I know it’s easy to forget that our churches have a broader reach than we see…realizing that I’m currently part of that, I thought that I would make some of the invisible visible.
I’m thankful for church, although I’m not certain I’ve got it figured out yet.
*This sounds hazy. It is also hazy in my mind.
**Edited for anonymity.
It’s almost Thanksgiving, right?
And so we were talking about thankfulness at Bible Study this week.
Which I think was completely by accident, but maybe the Bible Study organizers are smarter than I thought (likely not: we were supposed to do this chapter last week, but I was the only one who showed up so we talked about nothing and then I left).
This week: Thankfulness and prayer.
And the possibility that thankfulness is only possible alongside recognition of God’s existence, because thankfulness necessitates acknowledging something greater outside ourselves that we are thankful to.
Also: the realization that we’re incapable of being as thankful as others who live in situations where survival is a daily battle, because the fact that we can take basic needs and survival for granted works to our detriment when it comes to an automatic reaction of thankfulness.
And from this: maybe we need to work harder at being thankful than we thought, and maybe we won’t ultimately be held accountable for the fact that we’re not as capable of thankfulness as others.
Someone mentioned Jonah, and that ridiculous part at the end of the story where God gives Jonah a plant to shade him, and then instead of being thankful for his brief shade respite Jonah gets pissed off when the plant dies.
Which was perfect, in fact. This story is a reminder of how easily we can spot others’ inability to recognize blessings, but we forget all the blessings we take for granted in our own lives. Perception is a sneaky sneaky thing.