26 Nov Digging Deeper, Counting Blessings
November 28, 2019
This week our nation pauses to celebrate our many blessings, but as with everything else about our country, no two people or families will celebrate Thanksgiving in exactly the same way. What are your particular traditions? Are you a stickler for dressing or stuffing? Does it go inside the bird or is it cooked separately? Will you travel or stay home? Does your household watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade or a football game or both?
One tradition that is observed by many families is that each person gathered around the table will name one thing for which they are thankful. Invariably, family and friends are mentioned numerous times, and that is certainly appropriate. But I’ve been wondering if we might think a little deeper about the blessings we enjoy. For example, you might reflect on your five senses and say a word of thanks for some special gift you enjoy because of your ability to see, hear, smell, taste, and touch. Or perhaps you could reflect on the people who service the mundane but necessary aspects of our lives—the people who haul our garbage, ensure that our water is clean, or clear the streets after a snow storm; the farmers and truckers who stock our food supply; the nurses and researchers and aides who provide us with excellent medical care; the teachers who educate our children.
When I reflect on the many gifts that grace my life, I am always reminded of how interconnected our lives are, and especially, of how interconnected our lives are with God. Pastor, theologian and author Rev. Dr. Ted Loder captures it brilliantly in his poem, My Words Can Carry All the Praise, which I am delighted to share with you.
My Words Can Carry All the Praise
By Rev. Dr. Theodore W. Loder
Published in Guerillas of Grace
Glorious God, how curious
and what a confession
that we should set aside one day a year
and call it Thanksgiving.
I smile at the presumption,
and hope you smile, too.
But the truth is, Holy Friend,
that my words can’t carry all the praise I want them to,
or that they should,
no matter how many trips they make.
So this day, all is praise and thanks for all my days.
I breathe and it is your breath that fills me.
I look and it is your light by which I see.
I move and it is your energy moving in me.
I listen and even the stones speak of you.
I touch and you are between finger and skin.
I think and the thoughts are but sparks
from the fire of your truth.
I love and the throb is your presence.
I laugh and it is the rustle of your passing.
I weep and your Spirit broods over me.
I long and it is the tug of your kingdom.
I praise you, Glorious One,
for what has been, and is and will ever be:
for galaxy upon galaxy, mass and energy,
earth and air, sun and night,
sea and shore, mountain and valley,
root and branch, male and female,
creature upon creature in a thousand ingenious ways,
two-legged, hundred-legged, smooth, furry, and feathery,
bull-frogs and platypuses, peacocks and preachers,
and the giggle of it—
and turkeys (especially, this day, the roasted kind, not the flops)—
and families gathered, and the thanking;
the brave, lonely one, and the asking;
the growling, hungry ones, and the sharing.
I praise you, Glorious One, for this color-splashed, memory haunted,
and the labors that birthed it,
the dreams that nurtured it,
the riches that sometimes misguide it,
the sacrifices that await it,
the destiny that summons it
to become a blessing to the whole human family!
O Glorious One,
for this curious day,
for the impulses that have designated it,
for the gifts that grace it,
for the gladness that accompanies it,
for my life,
for those through whom I came to be,
for friends through whom I hear and see
greater worlds than otherwise I would,
for all the doors of words and music and worship
through which I pass to larger worlds,
and for the One who brought a kingdom to me,
I pause to praise and thank you
with this one more trip of words
which leaves too much uncarried,
but not unfelt,