As we approach this Thanksgiving Day, oh God:
Bless the Marthas of this world, who might never adopt Mary’s posture without first losing their cool. Help them relax into your acceptance; give them eyes to see that true gratitude attaches itself to presence, not preparation.
Bless those who feel stuck between life’s stations, as if they must justify their place at the big kids’ table. Grant them the assurance that you fully know and fully love them right when and where they are. Grant great faith that your plans for them cannot be thwarted, and will not be threatened by artificial timelines or the weight of expectation.
Bless those whose thanksgiving is crowded out by comparison, as they hustle to keep up with the Joneses down the street, successful writers or so-called super-parents. May the smile of a child, the sound of a song, or stories swapped with old friends break the spell, and help them glimpse the kindness threaded through a one-of-a-kind life.
Bless those who will spend Thanksgiving physically or emotionally alone—eating a meal for one, or on their feet at a thankless retail job. Provide your beautiful presence, and remind them you are their portion.
Bless the parents whose children will be traveling home for the first time in what feels like too long. May the time they share together slow down and every second be relished. Bless their children as well, that they would absorb every ounce of your lovingkindness shown through their parents.
Bless native brothers and sisters, for whom Thanksgiving feels like the throbbing of a wound, passed down and pressed on through the generations. Give them strength to tell the truth; surprise them with allies in unlikely places; grant an unshakeable confidence that—through human and divine means—you are in the process of righting all of history’s wrongs.
Bless white brothers and sisters like me with grief over these wrongs. Sometimes your best gifts cut us before they heal us. May we find the strength to discard old stories, repent of our complicity and live out a religion of reconciliation and reparation.
Bless those who are otherwise blue, beat-up or bereft this week. Make a way for them, and allow them to bask in the warmth generated by candles at a Thanksgiving table or Advent display. You always break into the world as light, and even now you light up our darkness.
Bless those who, because of past church experiences or some other nagging voice sitting on their shoulder, fear the pleasure they take in a home-cooked meal, the presence of loved ones, or the ability to cast their cares aside—if only for one day. Drive deep the truth that we do not honor you by robbing ourselves of joy; rather, like the leper who sprinted back to Jesus on newly steady legs, we only need to lift our eyes and say “thank you.”
Oh God, you do not choose to nourish your people through scraps and leftovers, but at a table spread wider and deeper than we can even imagine. Teach us to feast on you and through you, we pray.