As I prepared a Thanksgiving prayer for a community meeting, the great and the small things to be grateful for in our lives sprang to mind, as they do every year. But now they didn’t seem to be enough.
The ache I feel this year in saying thank you to God comes from the ravages to the East Coast wrought by Hurricane Sandy and complicates the golden words of thanks for family, friends, and the good things in life.
We had five days of darkness and cold. Over the weeks, photos on the news show thousands of nearby towns and neighborhoods destroyed, tens of thousands of people displaced, hundreds of thousands without light, heat, and in some cases, water.
There are stories of heroism amid the distress, the rescue of drowning people, quickly formed rescue groups, people sheltering friends and families, the gathering of supplies to be freely distributed.
There was a special story about a dog that regularly carried bags of food and bottled water up the stairs of a darkened high-rise to people trapped in their apartments.
The kindness of people who brought relief and the generosity of people who gave time, energy, and supplies are immeasurable gifts.
Here is where one prays for the distressed with enormous trust in God. At the same time, I believe God’s care is more enormous than my feeble faith and trust. And that faith and trust —and that’s all any of us has—is deeply embedded in reality and experience. It makes it possible to join our prayers into one single, ardent statement, as Mary of Bethany did when her brother Lazarus fell ill. She said to Jesus: “He whom you love is ill.”
Her prayer, after dark days of loss, was answered beyond all imagining. So with profound trust we can cry out to God for those in need: these men and women and children whom you love are in dire need.
Thank you for being with us even when we don’t recognize you.
Thank you for our lives and our spirit.
This is our thanksgiving in a time of distress.