What a strange Thanksgiving celebration we will have this year, the year of the Covid-19 pandemic. I think many of us hoped that things would have returned to normal by this time, and it looks as if that won’t happen for several months into the new year. Do we really want to observe this cultural holiday after all we’ve been through? What do we have to be thankful for anyway?
Let me count the ways.
As I write this article, I am viewing the most gorgeous maple tree in full autumn colors and my soul can only rejoice in its beauty and thank God for my eyesight and the fact that I live here and have seen this magnificent sight grow ever more beautiful for several days now. Autumn has always been my favorite season, but this year it seems to have special meaning to me. Perhaps I have become more aware of such beauty because of so many challenges confronting us these last several months.
As I reflect on the connection between hunger and bread in our world today, I am struck by Gandhi’s remark that feeding my brothers and sisters is one way that God shows God’s presence to them. When I see people around me collecting food for the food bank, for shelters, for soup kitchens, I am grateful that even when we may have our own problems, we can still reach out to others who we feel have needs greater than our own. God seems to depend on our generosity, but it is often when we give and share with others that people sense there is a God and that God is watching over them.
Sometimes I feel overwhelmed when I hear about and see for myself the numbers of people in our world, in our country, in my state, in my city who are in need of food and other necessities. I am grateful for St. Mother Teresa’s words of wisdom that help me realize what it is that I can do for even one person. In this time of quarantine for our elders, I can easily reach out to one person in our nursing home and help her get what she needs to make her life comfortable and a little less lonely. The gratitude she expresses is even more precious and meaningful and helps me to see that I can still make a difference in someone’s life.
It is Pope Francis’s wise words that help me put into perspective the connection between my spiritual life and the physical world in which I live. In these trying times, I have certainly prayed for the hungry. I pray that the bread we need will be there for us each day and the next, and I am particularly grateful for the essential workers, the bakers, who often rise early and make the many delicious and nourishing breads that feed our bodies and our souls.
Let’s take some time to reflect on just what it is we can be grateful for this Thanksgiving and see how we can be the bread for others, the one who helps others see God in the meal we prepare for them, the one whose prayer led them to feed others.
Blessings to all those who will reach out in new and creative ways to feed the hungry this Thanksgiving Day!
Sister Mary Thill is a Sylvania Franciscan Sister. She is recently retired from Mercy Health – St. Vincent Medical Center and looks forward to being and doing in a new time and in new ways.