It’s Thanksgiving in America. I’m thankful for Thanksgiving. I’m thankful that the pilgrims and the Indians joined together to celebrate Thankfulness in the new community that was forming. They demonstrated a moment in history that is worth repeating and celebrating.
History reveals that supporting one another’s mutual good was not maintained in the years that followed this celebration. Mutual thankfulness gave way to distrust, greed and war. The outcome was years passing without an annual celebration of thankfulness. I wonder if we can learn from history how thankfulness and mutual care for one another in America can produce a good result for all who come to the table.
Thanksgiving 2016 happens in a year of a divided nation. Riots and protests plagued our country after a hotly debated election. Thanksgiving calls us to come to the table. To set a historical Thanksgiving table, you could invite those who are different from you. Wouldn’t it be great if every immigrant in America was invited to a Thanksgiving dinner? What would happen if Trump voters and Trump protestors sat down to a meal and discussed their mutual thanksgivings rather than their many differences? What if they tasted each other’s favorite side dishes and shared tips on cooking turkey while at the same time acknowledging their common interest for a peaceful life?
If, as a part of this meal, all gathered were asked to share that for which they were most thankful, would people with grave differences find commonality? Would participants express gratitude to their God, their families or the people in their lives who had expressed the most love? Would they express gratitude for new births and for those who have left this world with great love because they once were here? Could they each be grateful to live in a nation where the people elect their leaders and the people’s voices are heard? Would they be grateful that they share electricity, water, and air? Would they find commonalities around a table of thankfulness?
I believe they would. I read posts on Facebook from people expressing one thing they are grateful for during the month of November. Others post some of the points on my own gratitude list. Psalm 35:18 expresses our great honor as humans: I will give you thanks in the great assembly; among the throngs I will praise you. Every human being on this earth can find one point of gratitude. They may not know that it is God who is the giver of every good gift, but they can see that there are gifts in this world, little kindnesses from the God who loves all of His inhabitants. Even weeds produce lovely flowers and designs, unique and intricate. All of God’s universe is filled with points of gratitude.
Perhaps if you share your gratefulness in the crowds, others will follow your example. Rather than focus on your differences, ask your foes to share that for which they are most grateful. See if you can agree on gratitude. Gratefully acknowledge your differences.
We will hold strong opinions that might separate us, and perhaps that fact alone will turn into gratitude. We can be grateful that we do not live in a vanilla world but in one with humans who, just like the weeds, produce lovely flowers and designs, unique and intricate.