Early this morning I was on my way to the grocery store for eggs and Rainier beer, because it’s Thanksgiving, of course. As I drove along the familiar route, I looked up to the steeple of the Methodist church, and noticed a bird on top. It took me a moment, because I wasn’t sure if it was a real bird, perched atop the cross on top of the steeple, or some sort of weather vane thing. It was 7:15 on Thanksgiving morning and no one else was on the road, so I just watched for a few seconds until the bird moved its head, and the mystery was solved. Because I was driving toward what was left of the sunrise the bird was silhouetted, and I couldn’t tell what it was, but I guessed it might be a seagull. Interesting.
For the rest of the drive I thought about the bird on the cross on the steeple. Maybe it’s keeping watch, or having its own little vigil for all of its bird-kin who gave their lives today that we might enjoy turkey and dressing and the works.
I got to the store and immediately went to Starbucks, because Momma hadn’t had her morning coffee yet and it would just be better if I did. I got my eggs, and noted the Safeway does not sell Rainier beer, and picked up a few things to make a pumpkin cheesecake I hadn’t planned on baking. I thanked everyone at the store profusely for working on Thanksgiving. They were all quite gracious, and said no problem, that’s why we’re here. Nice.
On the way home I thought about food. I thought about my plan to eat so that I’m full but not stuffed, and my intention for exercise today. Then I thought about all the people who will be getting their Thanksgiving dinner at a shelter or soup kitchen, if they get any Thanksgiving at all. I thought about the cut in food stamps, and the food that flies off the shelves at our local food pantries, and maybe yours, too. I thought about the woman at my parents’ church who died recently, about her personal ministry of collecting food from local stores and driving it out to the fields to feed the migrant workers.
Last night at dinner our daughter asked about the Great Depression. She’s reading the American Girl “Kit” books, and wanted to know what a depression is. I told her that her grandparents remember the Depression, and how her great grandmothers would give food to anyone who came to the house who looked hungry.
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, but it does stir stuff up, stuff about the privilege of having a table of friends or family to eat with, the privilege of drinking good wine and eating an ethically-raised turkey. It stirs up stuff about people who don’t have community or food; it stirs up stuff about the gloss of the first Thanksgiving story.
We’re joining friends whom we love for dinner today; I am grateful that they invited us. They’re not particularly religious people, so I imagine there will be no grace said at the table, which is fine, because I can say many graces of my own today. So here goes – and a happy Thanksgiving to you.
God of bounty, who calls us to see the scarcity;
may we be full today.
May we be full of your stuff, and not ours –
full of gratitude, of course;
full of mercy for the things that go wrong;
full of sorrow for those who hunger;
full of hospitality to those who are lonely;
May our cups runneth over.
God who loves the widows and orphans, who calls us to look far to the margins,
may we hunger today.
May we hunger for your graces, and not ours –
hunger for some justice;
hunger for some healing;
hunger for kindness, humility, and faith.
Hunger for our suffering kin who are so depleted they cannot even wail.
Our cups do run over, God, because you love us.
Let us fill each other’s cups today.