Come hungry. Really? It seems everyone is stuffed to the gills these days. Whoever would want a Thanksgiving turkey?
I had a delicious and delightful lunch with old high school friends this week. It was coordinated by a friend who is a Muslim, whose family emigrated here from Pakistan in 1958. (I didn’t know this about her when we were in high school, but now I do.) I had contacted her about “things Muslim” in my sports writing about Ramadan and the World Cup athletes and more recently about quotes I heard bandied about in anti-Muslim rhetoric. What I have learned about me is, I do better when I “seek first to understand, and then to be understood.”
This was alive and well among these friends, nerds all, of a sort: male and female, married and not, widowed and not, children and none. Employed, retired, stay at home, volunteer. Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, agnostic … quite diverse, except for our ages. We were once classmates and, now take an interest in what was important and meaningful to the other. Conversation is lively and relationship comes alive. Current events are front and center, honesty and forthrightness abounding. I just love these people. I was hungry for their company.
Afterward, I joined my Muslim friend at a gathering of community leaders, religious leaders and citizens in Montgomery County where I felt more companionship than I sometimes feel among “my own kind” these days. As some leading Christians claim that God put Donald Trump in office, the dissension in our own ranks is palpable. I keep asking, how could people following the same Lord be headed in such different directions?
Then I see this Amazon commercial and think, that is simply genius. How can anyone disagree with that? Yet, one commenter did, saying, “Supporting magical thinking, regardless of what you call your imaginary friend, is still harmful to humanity and the planet at large. Theism is a form of mental illness that needs treatment … cult… addict … delusion,” Seventy people gave her the thumbs up. The originator of the post replied frankly but politely and got many more thumbs ups. Still, I am shocked at this viewpoint I did not know even existed, let alone had a healthy following. Where did this distrust and hatred of God come from?
These times have been allowed by God (if we believe in a sovereign God). I don’t think He wanted this for us, but this is what we have chosen for ourselves. As Dusty Baker, manager of the Washington Nationals baseball team, said (and I heard prophetically) about removing his starting pitcher from a game, “I didn’t take him out. He took himself out.”
We are a people who hunger and thirst for God, yet we come to the table so full we don’t want Thanksgiving. God will not force feed us, and He would have every right to excuse us. But, in His great mercy, He invites us to sit and eat among those who disagree and with those who are disagreeable to teach us how to pitch in such a way that we can go the whole 9 innings, and one day pitch the perfect game that He catches.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.
Wendy, the Kinesthetic Christian
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.”
“Rats,” said one. This was greeted by a delighted chortle from the backseat, where sat the other, smiling at beating her sister this time to thank Dad for the dinner we had just enjoyed at the restaurant. The rules are: you can’t say it until we return home, the driveway counts, first to remember, wins. No prize. Just satisfaction.
Our oldest daughter started this game years ago. But last night, our youngest raced her to the thanks. She must have been primed for the punch because, the second our wheels hit the driveway, out came the: “Thanks for dinner, Dad.” Then the groan from the front seat, admitting defeat.
I had no part in creating this game. It was all them. In fact, last night I was cautioned because I thanked Dad as he signed the credit card slip at the restaurant. That doesn’t count, I was told. You have to wait till we’re home.
At least I can still play, even though it’s my husband I’m thanking and not my dad because we all call him dad. Even me, when the kids are around.
But today I am marveling at the message in this game, created by the kids, refereed by the kids, perpetuated by the kids: the race to thank their father for his generosity to provide a lavish meal, at no expense to them.
What a meal was set for us at a table in a long ago upper room. By His grace, we get to eat it. And we don’t have to wait till we get home to play.
Thanks, Dad, for dinner.
So many choices. So little time. Should we really be grateful?
I wheel my cart down the aisle slowly, perusing my options. I know what I want, at least I think I do. Until I see that the flavor I am looking for comes in no fat, low fat, and high test. There are also creamy and oil-based varieties, and at least half a dozen manufacturers. How do I choose?
Do I sort? by color, brand, fat content, flavor? The store has usually done a bit of this for me, thank goodness. That’s not because they love me, actually, but because they want me to buy. If I am overwhelmed I may just throw up my hands and leave the store empty-handed. That will not do – for them.
They know us. We’re shoppers. We come with a list in hand and an idea in mind. We want to check everything off, but deciding is tough. If there were just one of everything, it wouldn’t be. But that is not the world in which we live. We must choose. And choose rightly.
Why? Because there is cost. And it’s not just the number on the price tag. It’s the cost of “You got the wrong one!” “Ew, I don’t like that!” These weigh very heavily, especially when we are trying to keep everyone happy. And we have limited resources.
If I didn’t, I guess I could just bring home one of each and let them choose. Pass the tyranny on to them and call it freedom of choice. But I don’t. I stand and struggle under the weight of “making everyone happy.” Wanting to insure my success, I work backward. Calculating. Comparing. Sorting and selecting. Maybe in desperation I just pick one. Maybe in fear I take home an armful.
Either way, I do not win. The store wins. The product wins. And inevitably, someone at my table will be less than satisfied.
- This isn’t what I wanted
- This isn’t what I expected
- This doesn’t taste right
Still, we love them. It’s amazing what happens when we sit around the table to partake of the same meal with the understanding that no one leaves the kitchen until the dishes are done. Conversation turns to more important things and the salad dressing takes a back seat.
It is amazing how important it seemed just hours before, when I was hosting the dinner. And how much it changes when Love takes over.