Thanksgiving is a time to be with family.
This brings anxiety, anticipation, anger, resentment. Wow. People don’t usually say that when they are talking about Thanksgiving, huh?
How many people are dreading the holidays – worried about what someone will say or do or if people will fight? How many people are estranged from family? How many of us know people (or are people) who are willful and alone and indignant and self righteous enough to have alienated their loved ones? We are alone but we feel justified in our “rightness”.
I heard Father Barron (www.wordonfire.org) talk about forgiveness. He talked about Jesus and Ghandi and Martin Luther King. He talked about forgiveness not being just about forgetting what someone has done but it’s about stepping into the cycle of violence and stopping it. When I say violence, it doesn’t have to mean physical violence but the violence that comes from words, resentments, grudges, jealousy, doubt, fear. When we forgive, we refuse to retaliate. We refuse to get involved in the negativity and hurt. We offer ourselves up to stop the violence.
Father Barron gave the example of the peaceful protests of Martin Luther King. He talked about the people who sat quietly at the restaurant counters and were thrown out because of the color of their skin. They did not retaliate, they did not fight.
Jesus did it on the Cross. In the midst of violence and hatred and anger and fear…He said, “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)
That’s our challenge. We are challenged to be modern day examples of forgiveness. We are called to willingly stop the cycle of violence. We are called to remain peaceful. We are challenged to literally offer ourselves up by letting go of our need to be right or our need to retaliate or to get revenge.
We have the power to stop the negativity.
As Ghandi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
And now, because I am extremely grateful, I need to say thanks.
I’m thankful for health, gainful employment, a cozy home, a husband who loves me and our kids and tells us and shows us every day, my mom, my kids who fill my life with noise and chaos and doubt and fear and joy and love and laughter and adventure, friends who listen, libraries, oceans, mountains, doctors, good schools, teachers who encourage and empower children.
Opportunity, freedom, faith, Jesus, music, yoga, Pottery Barn, art, photography, nature, skiing, vacations, HGTV, prayer, literature, movies, Bret Michaels, peanut M&Ms, good restaurants, The Peninsula, great writers, Modern Family, Diet Coke, hugs, Starbucks, Hope, Father Barron’s Word on Fire, honest people, integrity, forgiveness, openness, understanding, breath.
Obviously, this is not a complete list. I’m not sure I could ever name everything I’m grateful for. Like everyone else, I take a lot of things for granted. So much so, I don’t even acknowledge them. I heard someone say once that they wake up every day and say thanks to God for another day. They are grateful they are alive. That’s a good place to start.
I’m grateful for all of the people that read this blog. For the people who call me or email me or tell me in person that it is touching them in some way. Your encouragement lifts me up and emboldens me to keep writing and sharing.
Because here’s the thing…what I’m most grateful for would have to be the certainty that I am not alone. I’m thankful that I was created out of love by a God who knows me intimately and loves me unconditionally. You were too. And because of that, we understand each other. We are all in this together.
That’s beautiful. We can move forward together in harmony, understanding, and respect. If we are willing to get real and dig deep, we find we truly are brothers and sisters. We are all family.