A reporter once asked Mohandas Gandhi to sum up his life in twenty-five words or less. He replied, "I can do it in three; renounce and enjoy!"
Now... why are we talking about Gandhi on Thanksgiving?
Well, it's simple: he really got it! True thanksgiving, the thanksgiving which is asked of us in scripture, is a thanksgiving that recognizes that nothing belongs to us. True thanksgiving recognizes that all we are and have is a gift, and therefore releases any claims to ownership and entitlement. By releasing these claims, and returning the gifts to their owner (God), we are free to celebrate them without needing to worry about holding on to them or getting more of them. After all, "The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it" (Psalm 24:1), and "in him (God) we live and move and have our being" (Acts 17:28).
Our prayer at Burning Bush Communities is that this Thanksgiving we might all remember the specific people, events and blessings from this past year that we are thankful to God for. But we don't want to stop there! Our prayer is that our thanksgiving would extend into all the corners of our lives on a daily basis! So while we hope tomorrow is a special day of feasting and gathering to give thanks, our greater hope is that it is simply a reminder for us all keep giving our lives and all that is in them back to God with with joyful gratitude for the goodness that we have received.
That being said . . . Happy Thanksgiving, and let us go on our way with some wise words from Abraham Joshua Heschel:
The natural man feels a genuine joy at receiving a gift, in obtaining something he has not earned. The pious man knows that nothing he has has been earned; not even his perceptions, his thoughts and words, or even his life, are his deservedly. He knows that he has no claim to anything with which he is endowed. Knowing, therefore, that he merits little, he never arrogates anything to himself. His thankfulness being stronger than his wants and desires, he can live in joy and with a quiet spirit.
- Abraham Joshua Heschel, Man is not Alone