Thanksgiving Reflections

November 26, 2009 | By | Add a Comment

I celebrated Thanksgiving in an old-fashioned way. I invited everyone in my neighborhood to my house, we had an enormous feast, and then I killed them and took their land. – Jon Stewart

Sometimes, the main thing you have to be thankful for is that “this too, will pass”.  Of course, not everything will indeed pass. 1  Even after sifting and shaking, some things remain. 2   But, sometimes the best you can do to get through one day is to know that a different and better day is on the horizon.

And, being in need is a gift as well.  I don’t have much money anymore.  Every now and then, I will treat myself to food that I used to enjoy all the time.  It tastes better now.  It is the same, but it is different.

Then there are friends that I seldom see anymore but used to see all the time.  One of my best friends moved to Texas and the other is in Washington, D.C.  Now, when I do see them, it means a little extra.

And then there is the feeling that a God who once seemed close is nowhere to be found.  As always, Frederick Buechner knows exactly what to say:

I believe that we know much more about God than we admit that we know, than perhaps we altogether know that we know. God speaks to us, I would say, much more often than we realize or than we choose to realize. Before the sun sets every evening, he speaks to each of us in an intensely personal and unmistakable way. His message is not written out in starlight, which in the long run would make no difference; rather it is written out for each of us in the humdrum, helter-skelter events of each day; it is a message that in the long run might just make all the difference.

Who knows what he will say to me today or to you today or into the midst of what kind of unlikely moment he will choose to say it. Not knowing is what makes today a holy mystery as every day is a holy mystery. But I believe that there are some things that by and large God is always saying to each of us. Each of us, for instance, carries around inside himself, I believe, a certain emptiness – a sense that something is missing, a restlessness, the deep feeling that somehow all is not right inside his skin. Psychologists sometimes call it anxiety, theologians sometimes call it estrangement, but whatever you call it, I doubt that there are many who do not recognize the experience itself, especially no one of our age, which has been variously termed the age of anxiety, the lost generation, the beat generation, the lonely crowd. Part of the inner world of everyone is this sense of emptiness, unease, incompleteness, and I believe that this in itself is a word from God, that this is the sound that God’s voice makes in a world that has explained him away. In such a world, I suspect that maybe God speaks to us most clearly through his silence, his absence, so that we know him best through our missing him.3

In large part, I think that this is what earth is all about.  Earth is about realizing what you are missing and intensely longing for all those things to be restored.  This Thanksgiving, I am most thankful that this day of restoration is on the horizon.

I used to hate it when people would say that every day is Christmas.  That is flat out wrong.  How can it be the case?  A birthday only comes once a year.  I think a better argument could be made that every day is Thanksgiving.  Every day is an opportunity to be grateful.  We are told that in all circumstances to give thanks. 4

Over time, though, I’ve also softened my stance on Christmas as well.  Every day is a gift.  Each breath is a mercy.5

I close these reflections with some words from a song by Jason Gray:

The curse undone, the veil is parted.
The garden gate will be left unguarded.


  1. Matthew 24:35
  2. 1 Corinthians 13:13
  3. Listening to Your Life: Daily Meditations with Frederick Buechner
  4. 1 Thessalonians 5:18
  5. Andrew Peterson, “Serve Hymn”
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