It is Thanksgiving. Initially, when given this date for my column, I was thankful! Great day to write for, especially as a messenger of Grace. What could be better?
Then the date rolled around.
In the midst of an ongoing climate emergency that seems to have failed to galvanize either electors or those seeking their support. Watching leaders wince under the lash of a justifiably angry 16 year old while continuing to champion the same old destructions that got us here in the first place.
In the midst of news from the south. Another mass shooting, another school emptied, office terrorized, family destroyed. Our own leaders bowing down to the right to bear arms.
In the midst of images of people fleeing ethnic cleansing, or state sponsored terror, or religiously justified terrorism, or rain-forest destroying fires.
In the midst of the commodification of life’s elements. Watching my neighbours, normally compassionate and caring, express fear and outrage at the human misery confronting them. Often blaming the miserable while expressing nervousness that the value of housing might – wait for it – drop.
What is there to be thankful for?
This past Sunday was World Communion Sunday. Christians around the world remembering our common heritage. Our common birth story, our uncommon founder and his uncommon followers.
We remember a small number of fearful people gathered for a last meal with their confidant, leader, teacher and friend. When they learned he would be taken. When they broke bread together for the last time, and the first time. When they drank from the common cup in token of the uncommon Spirit binding them in relationship and love.
We remember that dark day when the powerful turned against voices crying out for love, compassion, care and support and swatted them away. Insignificant. Gnats.
What is there to be thankful for?
Looking into the roots of my faith tradition I am thankful the women, men and children around that table never gave up. When their beloved was killed before them, they did not flee. When he returned they saw him. In the stranger, in the hungry, in the weak. In the poor, the ill and the imprisoned. In the ones left alone, marginalized, mocked, ridiculed and made to despair. In the love poured out and the grace of forgiveness offered again and again and again. Until it need not be offered any more. Until we’ve finally figured it out.
When it was darkest and they were most beset they raised up the cross of rejection among them, making of it a promise of blessing and a challenge to despair.
I begin by giving thanks for them. Then continue by thanking the flower shredding beauty without counting cost. Go on blessing the forest still feeding the air without bemoaning its purpose. Delight in bird-song taking wing in the sky, the startle sent out from the deer.
The waves on the shore of the Salish coast whisper promises of lives long lived, lives yet to come. Plastic and acid may have their way for the day, but this too shall be surpassed. Enfolded in the unending ability of the created world to hold all within her being, in her love.
Humans may occupy a different place in the world we remodel than in the one we were set upon. We will, however, be here in someway. Part of spirit and blessing. Forgiven, transcendent, transformed. Somehow we will find, again, our place in our relations. In creation and Creator.
I can, I find at last, give thanks for that.
Blessings upon you and yours, this blessed Thanksgiving Day.
Keith Simmonds is in ministry at Duncan United Church, where folk are engaged in seeking justice, loving kindness and walking humbly with the Creator. He blogs at keithsimmonds.ca
You can read more articles on our interfaith blog, Spiritually Speaking, HERE
* This article was published in the print edition of the Times Colonist on October 12th, 2019