The Day Before Thanksgiving

The Day Before Thanksgiving November 25, 2009

It’s the day before Thanksgiving, 2009. I had intended to just have a lazy day, relaxing, reading, drying what seems like bushels of basil I’d harvested from the garden before what I figured would be the first freeze of the season.

Mid-morning, my phone rang. Unfamiliar number–no name with it. When I answered, the voice introduced himself as someone I had known years ago, and had recently seen at a gathering for my and his parents Sunday School class. He was clearly in distress, and quickly told me the story. His brother’s stepson had been in a horrific car accident the night before. Multiple spinal injuries, and if the young man did live, there was no question of there ever being mobility again. The young man will be a complete quadriplegic, with no movement possible below the neck. We spoke a few moments, and I promised prayer and support.

A few minutes later, I received a summons to go to church and help fold a newsletter that needed to go out this afternoon. After a few moments of internal grumbling, I headed up there. But not before checking my phone and seeing a text message about a young couple who had just experienced their second miscarriage in two years and were grief-stricken.

There were just three of us folding and labeling the 500 newsletters. One, a sweet and wonderful senior citizen, spoke of her gratefulness that her daughter, diagnosed a year ago with fast-acting leukemia, had finished all her treatment, including a bone marrow transplant, and that things looked good for her. Then she mentioned her son, now on his third round of chemo for his cancer, but still managing to go to work each day. In the meantime, the phone rang with one of the many calls I get a week from people asking for money to pay utilities and/or hotel bills. Sometimes I wonder if these folks are reading from a prepared script–it seems that I’ve heard the same story over and over again.

Later, I spoke with my youngest son who said that he was having a showdown with his firm. He has consistently worked 12-15 hour days for over a year now, and had reach his limit. He was preparing for a trip to Peru, Machu Pichu, and the Amazon Jungle to get some space and time to think about what he really wanted in life.

In addition to this, several of us were planning on a “orphan’s” Thanksgiving meal. All who don’t have family, or want a smaller family to celebrate with a larger group, are invited to the church tomorrow for a meal. We have no idea how many are coming. This, in my opinion, is true Eucharist–the giving of thanks around a table where all bring what they can, and eat what they need. Someone asked, “What if a lot more come than we are prepared for.” I said, “We’ll have a miracle then. There will be enough no matter what we do.”

The day: a series of problems, pain, anguish, love, service, questions and not a lot of answers, and a strong undercurrent of thanksgiving. No easy answers to life’s complex challenges.

I used to think there were. Just believe the right things, trust God, “let God and let go,” operate out of the laws of attraction, etc. etc., and everything will all fall into place. No, it doesn’t. So, is the world held together in Christ? I hope so. Because there, and only there, is hope. Hope that resurrection does follow death and darkness. Life does triumphs over death. Yes, I do hope so.

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