Thanksgiving 2023

Monday, October 9th

Today is Thanksgiving in Canada. In the US, Thanksgiving is near the end of November, an illustration of two profoundly different histories and, therefore, imaginations about who we are as peoples. As we have always done, passed down from our now gone parents, the family gathers this afternoon – all 17 of us – around a long table for Turkey and the joy of family. I’m grateful for my family, all of us, all over the place. We are blessed.

Two moments fill me with thanksgiving in these days of war, horror and the coming of dark times. The first came yesterday in a church service. Into the service quietly came a woman in her eighties pushing a walker to a seat near the front. I could. see that her body was caught in some neurological disease. Her movements were jerky as she guided herself toward a seat. In the midst of her contortions I saw such bright eyes and a beautiful smile for people she recognized. I couldn’t take my eyes of this amazing person as she pushed herself up from her seat to join in Thanksgiving hymns. Even through the involuntary movements of her body, I detected other movements that expressed a joy in worship. Sitting beside her (she’s an Anglo woman) was an Afro-Canadian family, a mom with amazing dreads, her teenage son and a younger boy. As we sat after one hymn I saw the younger boy lean over toward the white woman, shuffle along his seat and fold himself into her frail arms. I was blessed by this moment. God creates amongst us the beauty of being the body of Christ. A transcendent moment of the ordinary, an exquisite expression of Christ’s reweaving in the mundane. Wow!

The second came earlier in the week. I was talking on Zoom with a friend, a farmer on the Canadian prairies. He was describing the fragility of family farms on the prairies. Many of his co-farmers are struggling with issues of survival. They’re wrestling with how to be faithful to generations that have past and those to come. How do they keep the farm? It is getting close to impossible, my friend told me. He’s watching large corporations buying up these farms and, in so doing, creating a new kind of feudalism. My friend, as a Christian, is not willing to accept this inevitability for himself or his neighbours. They are losing their farms to financialization of late capitalist economies. He is rooted in a biblical imagination of the land. He is reading Catholic Social Teaching ( The Spirit is burning into him a different imagination. I was amazed as he told me about plans afoot with others to form an alternative economy around farming. He’s under no illusions about how difficult this will be. But the Spirit has taken hold of him. He’s started taking steps with others. I was blessed – here is the reweaving work of God’s Spirit in the everyday life of a farmer.

This Thanksgiving I am with my family, I see ordinary people being the body of Christ and I witness how the Spirit brings hope in darkening economic times. Praise be to God!