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Where I found the feast of Thanksgiving

It was Saturday morning and I had the day off, so to speak; no schedule, no commitments, just a day to catch up on things. I had been out of the country for almost a month and returned home to a world of things to be done. So this Saturday, I was going to tackle the piles of paper signifying people to be contacted, articles to be written, decisions to be made and words to be read then cataloged in some fashion. Oh my goodness, I thought, was the trip to foreign countries, a national convention of common interest and a reunion with relatives worth all of this? Overwhelmed, I thought maybe I just needed to escape outside and weed my autumn garden.
Instead, I found myself harvesting my ‘autumn garden’ of invitations growing on my desk. As I went through the assorted letters, pamphlets and requests, I began to have a sense of those individuals and organizations that had contacted me while I was gone. When I read the information that had been sent to me to peruse, I found I got taken up in the excitement of the opportunities presented. Mmmmmmm, it wasn’t just a block of my time someone had requested; it was a chance to be part of an intriguing project. There is nothing more of a downer to me than the prospect of being bored. Well, if I responded positively to these inquiries, I wouldn’t have to face boredom anytime in the near future.
Some of the communications had to do with organizations planning annual year-end meetings. Meetings in which groups took stock of the activities from the past year, thanked those who contributed to those happenings then laid out plans and challenges for the future. These are the very same thought processes we as individuals go through before we have the celebrations at the end of the year we call ‘The Holidays.’ It caused me to stop and run through my own mind this very kind of analysis.
This Saturday morning, I had eaten my breakfast while gazing at the two antique rugs I had just brought back from my trip to the country of Moldova. I love these old handmade rugs I buy from my friends in that little rather forlorn part of the world. And I must confess, that over the years I have had the opportunity to purchase quite a few. The style of rugs I like are not used in homes there these days. They are considered old fashioned. Today, homes are adorned with more up-to-date machine woven rugs that are produced in factories.
I not only had stacks of desk work to attend to when I got home from this most recent journey, but now a bigger stack of old worn, hand-woven rugs needing care. I must admit, I cherish being able to clean these rugs with my own hands. When I handle those woolen rugs, I feel the lives of women and their families. They had experiences common to all human beings, yet at the same time very unique to them. This gives me a connection to the very energy of life itself.
While sorting the work on my desk, I realized that these papers were in a less tactile way the same voices of a people I would otherwise have never known. The requests for a speaker, notes for appointments and background information to be read for approaching meetings were all connecting me to the action in my world here in Indiana.
A few years ago, outside the Auschwitz concentration camp of the second World War, I met the most amazing old woman. She had been in work camps as a prisoner during these harsh years of Nazi persecution. She spoke to us of the experiences of her life and concluded with this statement of Thanksgiving: More important than food in this life are relationships ‘ the relationship a person has with their God and the relationship they have with others.
What a gift I am given every day, the gift of being a part of something bigger, more important and long-lasting than I am on my own. This is the Thanksgiving message: We are not alone and we are given the resources to live this life when we join with others. Opportunities to be part of it all; that is what I will give praise for in my Thanksgiving prayer.