thanks (n): an act or statement of gratitude
giving (v): to offer an object to someone else
This Thanksgiving season, I have been hearing al awful lot of grumbling. Those making such statements fall into two opposing groups.
One grumbles about their sense of loss of the holiday because of following CDC guidelines for safety in the context of 2020’s Covid-19 pandemic. No travel. No family gatherings. No reason to cook a Thanksgiving meal for 10 to 20 people.
The other grumbles because they plan to travel, have a large family gathering, and cook a large meal… and they see the glare of guilt from group one.
Recently, I have a client who, we will say, comes from a different branch of the tree of Judio-Christian denominations. We have been having a lively exchange of ideas while doing our rehab. While, technically, staff are advised to not discuss controversial topics, such as politics and religion, with clients, I view the sanction as not the topic but the attitude that we bring to the conversation. Open minded exchanges of ideas and explorations of traditions are fine. Rigid boundaries and dogma are the problem.
With this in mind, as Thanksgiving approached, this client recommended that I read a section of 1st Timothy. As my hands were busy providing therapy at the time, I had to remember which chapter and verses, she recommended. By the time I got home, all I could remember was it was verses 1 – 4 of one of the six chapters in 1st Timothy.
As our guests are asleep at 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning, this has given me time to read the whole letter. It only takes up five pages in my Bible, this is not putting me out much. Anyway, my preferred way to read one of the epistles is beginning to end, so that I can see how specific sections fit into the larger flow of ideas.
“…. everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving…” (1 Timothy, 4:4)
Certainly this fits the seasons. Fill in the blank for “everything”.
“The sins of some men are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them. In the same way, good deeds are obvious, and even those that are not cannot be hidden.” (1st Timothy, 5:24 – 25)
Thanksgiving is not a time to dwell on sins (turn off the news about the election results for today, please), but the first statement is part of the argument that Paul is making that some good is obvious and others will be recognized not in the deed, but in the results that will emerge in the trail of the deeds. Give thanks for the good deeds whether we can see the result now or later.
“… godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But, if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” (1st Timothy 6:6-8)
This Thanksgiving, whether you are observing it by yourself, with phone calls or Zoom/Face Time/Skype chats, e-mails/text messages, or in your social bubble, find contentment.
Maybe rain is refreshing the landscape, or sun lets you get out for a walk. Maybe you have some quite time for contemplation. Maybe you can watch “Miracle on 34th Street” to start the Christmas season. Maybe you have the turkey dinner, or can skip all that cooking. Maybe you can give a loved one a hug, or an elbow bump. Maybe you can check on a frail family member or neighbor. Maybe you can count how many people you know who have slipped by Covid-19’s grip, or recovered from infection. Maybe you can send some energy and prayers to someone you might know in the recovering at home or in the hospital.
Maybe we are missing out on our Thanksgiving traditions this year. Maybe we can consider the many possible good deeds that we can to today, even if we may not see the results for some time in the future, along the trail that follows us.