Of the 102 colonists who came across the Atlantic to the North America, only 53, just over half, survived that first year to bring in a harvest. More than anything else, this one fact tells us that the first Thanksgiving participants celebrated in spite of terrible suffering, hunger, losses and heartache. Yet, they still found room in the hearts for gratitude. It really is extraordinary.
We’ve had our own horrible year. I don’t need to remind you of everything, between pandemic and politics that we have been through. We’ve all lived through this together. Can we be as exceptional as the Mayflower passengers, finding our own reasons for celebrating what God has done for us? I know that we can!
For myself, I am endlessly grateful for everyone in the medical field. I have been cheering on and praying for researchers seeking vaccines and cures from the beginning. The brave souls who work with the sick have a most tender place of gratitude in my heart.
I have no end of appreciation for the staff of the parish who have worked so heartily, whether in their offices or from their homes, to continue our mission of encountering Jesus and serving as His disciples. Under extraordinarily tough circumstances, they do so very much to keep us together, to provide liturgies, both in person and online, to serve the needs of our children, to offer us support in our ministries and to provide us adult faith formation opportunities.
Our volunteers, sacristans, lectors, ushers, cantors, musicians, tech crew, and Eucharistic ministers have taken a hard situation and made it an amazingly beautiful experience. Who could have known that we could enjoy Mass outside as much as we have?
I am reminded by the many parishioners who serve in the military just how blessed we are that there are so many good people willing to sacrifice and serve to protect us, our country, and the values that make America a great nation.
I am grateful, in a most profound way, for the parishioners who have continued, in this stressful time, to support the parish financially. We have been weathering this storm with your amazing and much appreciated support. From my heart, I thank you!
And then there are the many small things. I am grateful for the pleasure of autumn chill in the air, the first rain, the sound of children playing on the east side of the parish campus during their recess, the hard work of teachers and parents helping children grow in knowledge and faith.
I am grateful for cooking adventures in the kitchen, the smell of onions and garlic sautéing in a frying pan, the heat of a tasty chili pepper, the taste and texture of cheese – oh how I am grateful for cheese.
I am grateful for a good book, a warm cup of chai tea, whitened with milk, for a lit fireplace when it is chilly outside, and for my favorite playlists of gentle, uplifting music.
I am grateful for my comfortable beach chair, for time on cliffs looking down on the Pacific, for pelicans and porpoises, for sea gulls and sunshine on water.
I am grateful for socially distanced dinners in backyards of friends, for any picnic, for tuna salad sandwiches with tomatoes, for a glass of wine with good conversation.
I am grateful for breath, and touch, and taste and sight, and sound and scent – how can I ever be grateful enough for any of these?