~ Giving Thanks ~
“In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
~I Thessalonians 5:18
Members and Friends,
There are only a few things that I even try to cook. I’m not sure why; I’ve had plenty of opportunities to learn, but I stick to a mere handful of dishes. When it comes to the culinary arts, I can do omelets, several kinds of soup, a few West African dishes, custard, and pumpkin pie. Actually, pretty much everything I cook ends up having a West African flair to it…except the custard (which has fallen out of fashion anyway) and the pumpkin pie—few things are more distinctly American. Even as I write, the house is filled with the scent of pumpkin pies, made from homegrown pumpkins, baking in the oven. It’s curious because I don’t especially love pumpkin pie. It’s just that pumpkins are so easy to grow, and they make such an “autumnal” smell when they’re baked into pies. Baking is a fun way to spend an evening when Michelle is out of town, too.
Not to boast, but I once made one of my famous pies for Family Promise, and the guests loved it. One of them asked why it tasted so much better than other pumpkin pies, and of course the reason was because it was not made from canned pumpkin, but from fresh, locally and organically-grown pumpkin. At first she didn’t believe me! She honestly thought that pumpkins could only be used for jack-o-lanterns, as if Del Monte alone knew the secret of cooking and pureeing them. And she was so grateful. She said, “Wow, so you’re telling me that you planted a seed, watered it, watched it grow into a pumpkin, and then you picked it, cooked it into a pie, and brought it here for us? That’s like giving us part of your life or something!” I was impressed by her insight, for that’s exactly what it amounted to: giving her part of my life. It’s what all of us do when we give of our energies, and our time, and our efforts to feed and house homeless strangers in our church. We’re giving them part of our lives, the only kind of gift that really counts. Some recipients are grateful and others less so. Still, we give.
But as I smell the pies baking this evening, I feel especially grateful. I bake them mostly just for sport. My life affords me the leisure, and freedom, and resources to do that. My life affords me enough acreage to grow the things, too. And not just that, but the smell of them brings back good memories of autumns past, holidays, happy times with loved ones I will not see again on this side of the Great Unknown, people who gave me more than a little part of their lives, and who continue to bless me long after their deaths. I cannot even begin to count the many blessings that fill my life with joy and meaning. I’m blessed with all that I need and most of what I desire. I’m blessed with faith, and with family, and with friends. I’m blessed to serve a church that I truly love. I’m blessed with “strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,” as the wonderful old hymn tells it.
And you, in this season of thanksgiving, what are you blessed with? Your list is probably as long as mine. Oh, I know, there are worries aplenty and sorrows enough to go around. But you’ll have time to think on those things later. Just for now, ask yourself this question: What am I grateful for? And whom? A sure cure for unhappiness is to dwell on the blessings of your life, to hold them up to the light and examine them, to smell them, and taste them, and listen attentively to them. A grateful heart is a joy-filled heart. If you take time to be grateful, it will make a real difference in your life.
In Christ’s Peace, ~Brian