Thanksgiving is so much more than one day in late November when we overeat and then crowd everybody into the family room to watch football played in empty stadiums.
Rather, Thanksgiving is a way of life called Thanks-living that is experienced everyday when the words “Thank You” don’t sound hollow or empty, but instead emit a sincere “You’re Welcome” in response!
I observe that this ageless exchange is now most often truncated, since I seldom hear the “You’re Welcome” of acknowledgement, but instead the recipient of the gratitude gives it a u turn, replying with their own “Thank You”, as if to say, with a little tone of rejection, “No…Thank You”.
For just a few moments, think of how the rhetoric has changed in our society since last Thanksgiving.
We’ve heard and read and debated and seen so many words and conversations hollowed out and emptied of promise and possibility by the concept of ‘fake’.
Called to question, therefore, is the word ‘real’, to the point that a fact-check or reality-check is necessary on the spot to know what to believe before the conversation and the listening can continue. Sadly, in the end, truth is undermined and trust, hollowed out.
Making deposits in a trust account
Often in my ministry over the years, I compared building trust in relationships to building a trust account in a bank.
Every time a truth is spoken to the other, it’s like making a deposit in that trust account. More than a checking or savings account, that trust account is intended to last beyond your lifetime. When we fail to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, the trust account is emptied more and more until refilling it becomes very difficult.
The COVID-19 times we live in are more difficult than words can express! When we need a trusting community to stop community spread, the ‘unity’ has gone out of community. Community is a word that is at risk of ringing hollow!
Our human nature resists or forgets to trust the truth of words like “Wear mask” – “Wash hands” – “Watch distance” for the sake of others and even for our own wellbeing. And then, because this coronavirus is so insidious and indiscriminate, truth and trust across relationships, communities, states, countries and the whole world are absolute necessities or we’re all in trouble together!
For this reason we need Thanksgiving to be filled with a sense of community just like it was for that first gathered indigenous and immigrant community that had been in trouble together after a long hard winter of cold and sickness.
Especially now when we can’t get together in the ways we used to or would still like to, we must put the ‘unity’ back in community! We must remember how very good our community has been to us and for us and with us! We must load up and fill to the brim overflowing with gratitude the words “Thank You” so no one will ever hear them as hollow words!
And finally, can we hear the always important word ‘TOGETHER’ again like we once heard it so often months ago – “We’ll get through this TOGETHER…with God’s help!”