Over the years I have many times felt a grave disappointment, even a dismay, when attending a Thanksgiving meal in one place or another. It happened when hearing the blessing before the meal – the brief, inarticulate prayer that resounded with insincerity and lack of conviction.
It is very difficult and may be impossible to fully acknowledge that all of us own nothing. We are recipients of all that we claim to be “ours.”
There is so much that each of us work so hard for (blood, sweat and tears) that prompted us to feel we can rightfully claim ownership and credit.
Facing the ultimate source of all our time and all our talent enables the truth to be seen.
Most of us have a good time inflating our egos by surveying our accomplishments — a fantasy tour of “how great I am.” Taking credit for what has been given to us is achieved by practicing mental short-sightedness, playing a make-believe self-creator.
Years of hard work, discipline and self-denial is the price most all of us have to pay to acquire significant goals (e.g. college, career, success, happy marriage). We certainly can take credit for what we acquired and achieved enduring the pain and drudgery of using our gifts of time and talent. [Refer to the parable of the talents, Matthew 25:21, “Well done good and faithful servant…I will put you in charge of many things.”]
But in all cases we clearly are recipients of our talents – “To one he gave…”[ Matt. 25:15]. The notion of our nothingness is necessary to understand the generosity of our Maker and the thanksgiving due him. We “celebrate” annually our Thanksgiving day here in America. I have never liked the term “celebration” of Thanksgiving; it seems more appropriate “to reverently observe.” Most of us like to itemize the numerous amenities and blessings in our lives; yet perhaps are inclined to overlook “our lives.”
There is one activity all of us creatures can never complete — giving deserved recognition, praise and thanksgiving to the ONE from whom all blessings flow. Such is spontaneous for any who have an honest look at themselves — so endowed with so many gifts.
This uninterrupted flow of life and talent behooves our uninterrupted thanksgiving. “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances.” [Thes. 5:16] May we be reflective enough to give heartfelt credit where credit is due on the last Thursday of every November; as well as all the days of our lives. The happiness of Thanksgiving is found therein, and therein I wish you a “Happy Thanksgiving.”
The Rev. John Burkhart Ph.D, is a retired Episcopal priest and professor of psychology
firstname.lastname@example.org blog at inspirationsandideas