Stuffed; or better, My Cup Runneth Over

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEarly 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.

Amen.

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Blessed to be a blessing

So it’s Monday morning and I’m on my way to Starbucks.  In my defense, I usually don’t visit Starbucks on a Monday morning, but there was a lot of gardening and the ensuing sore muscles yesterday, and the child woke me up at 2:30, and biology woke me up at 4:30, and the puppy woke me up for good at 5:30, and this week’s liturgy just needed a boost of caffeine.

So I’m on my way to Starbucks, a two-minute walk from the church, and I pass a guy pushing a grocery cart with a big garbage bag in it, which I assume is filled with cans and bottles he’s planning to recycle for the 5 cent rebate.  I’m on a mission for coffee, but I do think to myself, “God, bless that man” as I walk by.  But in the seconds after I pass him, before I get to Starbucks, I think to myself, “Maybe God wants me to be a blessing to him.”  And I go in and order my tall latte.

I have brought $3.oo with me; the coffee is $2.65 and I put the change in the tip jar.  I’m chatting with the barrista who’s foaming the milk and I hear the guy come in.  “Have you seen my friend who was pushing the thing?  Has he come out yet?”  No, says the barrista.  But then his friend comes out of the loo – an older gentleman wearing an Oregon State cap, pushing one of those walkers that has a basket and a padded seat.  The gentlemen leave.

I get my coffee, go outside, and pass them by.  They nod to me, and I’m expecting them to ask me for a dollar or two and I regret having only brought was was necessary for the coffee.  But they don’t ask me for anything; I’m pretty sure they don’t even notice me.  We end up  next to each other at the light and cross the street together.  The guys are chatting away, oblivious to my theological musings.  And on my way back to the office, I think to myself, “Who’s to say that man isn’t meant to be a blessing to me?”

May there be caffeine and the blessing of strangers for you today.

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