At a recent clergy gathering, this question came up: what movie do you like to watch around Thanksgiving? We could all name our favorite Christmas movies; but Thanksgiving was difficult. Little did I remember that the movie, “Planes, Trains & Automobiles” is about Thanksgiving. But as far as anyone could remember, that was it.
Perhaps the essence of Thanksgiving is hard to capture in film because Thanksgiving is much more than saying thank you once a year and feasting on a big turkey dinner. As Christians, we are to lead lives of saying thanks for all that we receive. We are called to be thankful and prayer-ful at all times and in all places. Thanksgiving is, viewed that way, simply a day when we put it all together.
Sandwiched between Halloween and Christmas shopping, we have a day to be thankful. Not merely to say thanks but to actually be thankful. As Christians, it is said that we are to shorten the distance between our eyes and our hearts. Often times, what we see and experience is filtered through the judgmental or insecure part of our brain and if there is anything left, it gets to our heart. Christians are called to shorten the distance between the eyes and the heart by attempting to bypass our judgmental thoughts and move the experience right to the center of our love and gratitude – the heart. On Thanksgiving, it is easy to do that when loved ones are gathered around the same table, when the abundance of food floods our eyes and our noses, when we gather in thanks to the Lord our God.
The real work of Thanksgiving is what follows. The rush of Christmas, the flood of traffic, responsibilities, and the overall hectic-ness of the season – it is then that we must pause on the act of Thanksgiving and, through prayers of gratitude, shorten the distance, as noted above, between eyes and hearts. Just like the additional calories I plan on putting on this Thursday, I also plan to add thoughts, memories and feelings of gratitude to use as a resource during the hectic month of December. And, as my waist expands through the season, may the distance between my eyes and heart shorten.
May God bless you with gratitude and thanks this year,